Go to a petrol station and the information you have to work with is the brand, availability at that site (diesel, petrol), octane ratings for petrol and price. That's all I need to make a decision, though my preference is Jet petrol because it seems to work better with small capacity scooter engines.
I like soya milk and I read the nutritional information on the side of cartons. What interests me most is calories; these range from about 35 per 100 ml all the way up to about 60. Second is the sugar content and third is fat content. After months of trials I've found a brand that's within my price point, tastes great and claims 45 calories per 100 ml.
Another example is bottled water. I look for the calcium, magnesium and sodium content. Scotland's not good for magnesium in water, so I prefer water that's low in sodium and has a calcium to magnesium ratio as close to 2 to 1 as possible, meaning it's usually from France.
These all allow me to make informed decisions. We can't expect to be able to speak with knowledgeable shopkeepers, or growers about items sold in supermarkets, so these labels are an acceptable compromise.
Yet with tobacco we're told nothing of consequence. Tobacco packs have huge warning labels as well as photographs, yet the most important information has been ignored. I'd like to know the tar and nicotine content as well as the types of tobacco used and their country of origin. I'd also like to know the moisture content in tobacco pouches.
It's something many of us just take for granted; warning labels, photos of sick people, the brand and that's it. The rest obtained by word of mouth or The Web.
However they'd like to introduce plain packaging for alcohol in Ireland and they state:
"It is a fundamental right of consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase, and it is the obligation of government to ensure citizens are able to do so. Adequate labelling of alcohol products must be viewed as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide information and educate consumers to prevent, and reduce, alcohol-related harm." (01)
There's no justifiable reason why we, as consumers, should not be afforded the same basic information about tobacco products. As what's needed is both informative and educational, this should be incorporated into each pack with reduced space for what we now know are faked, contrived or irrelevant photographs (02).
Tobacco control may be "more interested in hurting tobacco companies than they are in reducing smoking or even total product use" (03), however they have a duty to stay legal, to ensure our fundamental rights as consumers are upheld. In this they've failed - and compromised governments in the process.