Rapid Responses

Smokers’ choice

[Re: As Australia confirms a law banning branded tobacco packaging, should the UK follow suit?, yesterday]

Both contributors focus on whether children are swayed by cigarette packets. But this ignores the fact that this policy is essentially the infantilisation of adults. All adults know the dangers of smoking, yet many choose to do so regardless. Will plain packets stop some people smoking? Perhaps. But at what cost? Another nail in the coffin of our ability to direct our own lives.

Jason Greener

Simon Clark believes people aren’t attracted by glitzy packaging, yet fears for the jobs of graphic designers. That’s a bit of a slip.

Daniel Lowbridge


Grade inflation

[Re: Raise a glass to students’ success, but we need to talk about A-levels, yesterday]

A-levels have certainly become easier. When A-level maths was first introduced, the questions would have a preamble, but the the question would ask you, straight up, to “Find X” (20 marks). By the time I took the exams, the questions would provide detailed instructions on the stages needed to find the same X. The total marks would still be 20. By dumbing down the questions into smaller chunks, and leading candidates through them, the exam boards have done themselves no favours even though they can assert that the syllabus remains fundamentally unchanged.

Helen-Frances Pilkington



The number of top A-levels drops for the first time in 20 years. Don’t worry, you don’t need a degree to make your first million.

Although falling productivity may explain why jobs are up and GDP is down, it’s more likely that GDP figures need serious revision.

There was another massive drop in the claimant count in East London. It was the highest drop in the country.

I like Boris Johnson’s idea of going for big infrastructure projects like a new London airport. No doubt he’ll be a future PM.