Well, looking at the impact assessment for the ongoing consultation on plain packaging, Andrew Lansley's Department of Health seem to have plumped for none of the above (from page 28).
Annex 2: Elicitation of Subjective Judgments of the Impact on Smoking of Plain Packaging Policies for Tobacco ProductsNow, forgive me if I'm wrong, but this would seem to suggest that the 'experts' to be appointed for this purpose will all be people paid to come up with tobacco control policies ... like plain packaging.
The sample will consist of three groups of internationally-renowned experts on tobacco control policies, one group recruited from each of Australasia, the UK and North America. We will aim to recruit about 10 participants per group, numbers found to be sufficient in previous studies. Experts will meet Hora and van Winterfeldt’s first four requirements for participation, that is: (a) tangible evidence of expertise (as evidenced by publications), (b) reputation (as indicated by peer-nomination), and (c) availability and willingness to participate, (d) understanding of the general problem area (in addition to being a requirement for recruitment, participants will be provided with papers on the topic area to ensure sufficient knowledge). The latter two requirements suggested by Hora and van Winterfeldt (impartiality and lack of an economic or personal stake in potential findings) are considered impractical in this area, and so instead we will include a description of the participants’ employment and expertise for transparency.
The tract admits that there's no way they will be impartial, and that many will have a personal stake in seeing one side of the argument prevail over the other. However, the civil service doesn't seem to envisage any problem with this.
It's like handing control of the Leveson Inquiry to an associate of Rebekah Brooks, or even Rebekah Brooks herself with James Murdoch as a fellow panel member. Or Alex Ferguson appointing four members of the Manchester United Supporters Club to be officials for an important Champions League fixture.
In the scenario above, it's not inconceivable that the 'experts' recruited to offer 'subjective' judgements on plain packaging could include Simon Chapman, Linda Bauld and Stanton Glantz!
This is what passes for democratic process in this wonderful free country of ours.
Since we're well into the consultation period, one wonders if these panel members have been appointed yet or, if not, if the DoH has an idea of who they will be contacting for the roles. I can feel another FOI request coming on.