Cigarette plain packaging is “utterly bloody barmy”, Nigel Farage has insisted as he disclosed he asks shop assistants for defunct brands for “a bit of fun”.
The Ukip leader claimed a “wet middle class” in Westminster and Brussels will also pursue measures against alcohol and sugar, adding: “There is no end to this, absolutely no end to this.”
He railed against Government moves to introduce standardised packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products, a measure health experts believe will prevent brightly coloured packets luring people to smoke.
But Mr Farage said such a policy is a “counterfeiter’s dream”, adding he believes the amount of lost duty and tax on smuggled and illicit tobacco products is nearer to £4 billion.
In an interview for Asian Trader Magazine, Mr Farage also claimed he was “treated like a Serbian war criminal” by a BBC reporter during a Ukip campaign launch.
On plain packaging, he said : “I t is absolutely a counterfeiter’s dream.
“When I go food shopping in the supermarket and the cigarettes are all behind screens I see shoppers getting frustrated when the shop assistant can’t find the brands, and sometimes for a bit of fun I have asked for defunct brands like Capstan Full Strength, Craven A lights and when they can’t find them, I ask for the manager.
“It is just nuts, it’s bonkers.”
He went on: “Let’s be clear I am totally opposed to tobacco plain packaging with no compromise of any kind at all.
“I think it is all utterly bloody barmy and I am watching with blank comprehension about what we are doing on e-cigarettes – these are a huge success with a big marketing potential for small shops and yet we are doing or best to ban them everywhere.”
Mr Farage dismissed suggestions he was a racist, adding: ” No, no, the attempt to do that to me that has been going on for years.
“It only convinces those who don’t like us anyway and gives them more of a reason not to like us.
“Do most fair minded people think that about us? No. Was some of the media a misrepresentation of us in the run up to the European election? Yes it was and some of it was utterly monstrous.
“Then when I finally said right I am going to do something and I held that conference in London and I invited all our our MEP candidates to come on platform with me and there were 50-60 of them from all walks of life, but did that get any coverage? Was that on News At 10? Was it hell.
“Yet when Nick Robinson interviewed me at that launch of our campaign I am treated like a Serbian war criminal.
“To be intolerant of other people, far from it – in fact we have been very good at bridging that gap over a very long period time. But if you lose sight of who you are then you potentially have a problem.”