More tobacco data

Christian Kerr’s article about increased tobacco consumption has generated a bit of discussion about data sources. Here is Stephen Koukoulas at his blog and on twitter talking about ABS data. That’s the same data I used to generate this graph.

There is another ABS source of data. Australia doesn’t produce tobacco – all tobacco consumed in Australia has to be imported (legally or illegally). The ABS provides data on legal imports. I graphed the data for Tobacco and tobacco product imports (Customs value) for the period 2011 – 2014.

Tobacco - imports

There is a very clear increase in tobacco imports following the introduction of plain packaging. Now we could believe that tobacco sellers are importing and simply storing the tobacco in Australia, or we could believe that imports into Australia have increased because domestic consumption has increased. I’m suspecting the latter explanation is more likely correct. Not to mention any illegal importation of tobacco products.

The bottom line is this – the plain packaging experiment failed and failed dismally.

Update: To get a better appreciation of the increase in tobacco imports I have converted the monthly data series into a quarterly data series.

Tobacco - imports 1

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66 Responses to More tobacco data

  1. stackja

    The bottom line is this – the plain packaging experiment failed and failed dismally.

    RGR needed a distraction. And made the Left feel noble about health.

  2. harrys on the boat

    So why is this government going to court over this?

  3. MemoryVault

    So why is this government going to court over this?

    So why is this government continuing with the commercially unviable NBN?
    So why is this government continuing with the now proven NDIS failure?
    So why is this government continuing with the RET now that temps haven’t risen for 17 years?
    So why is this government continuing with their plans for a million trees, given the above?
    So why is this government continuing with their plans for a “Green Army” given the above?
    So why is this government continuing with Gonski, when more money has never worked before?
    So why is this government continuing with the PPL, when we can’t afford it?
    So why is this government raising expenditure and taxes, after campaigning on reducing expenditure and cutting taxes?

    Questions. Questions.
    So many questions.

  4. Infidel Tiger

    I hear the Eighth Dwarf, Nanny, has been going berserk about BAT selling discount smokes and demanding a tobacco floor price. The madness never stops. That window licking drone, Dutton, said they’d “look into it” So it’s a given.

    This country is an international embarrassment.

  5. Andrew

    The Kouk keeps on trying to defend the legacy of The Goose. Bless him

  6. H B Bear

    That would be The Kouk, economic adviser to Julia Gillard?

    He should buy a neck tie, remove himself to the nearest ladies conveniences and spare himself the embarrassment.

  7. Snoopy

    Australia doesn’t produce tobacco

    Australia doesn’t produce marijuana either. :)

  8. Milton Von Smith

    You need to be careful with this data – there may have been a domestic manufacturer shut down at around the same time.

    Indeed, the 2012-13 Budget explicitly refers to a “scheduled relocation overseas of a large tobacco producer” on page 5-24 of Budget Paper No. 1.

  9. Sinclair Davidson

    MVS – yes that’s correct. My understanding is that tobacco was imported and then cigarettes manufactured in Australia. Whereas now there is no tobacco production ( ceased in 2007) or cigarette manufacture in Australia at all.

  10. Milton Von Smith

    Budget says it didn’t cease until 2012-13. But of course Swanny’s Budget could be wrong…

  11. Infidel Tiger

    MVS – yes that’s correct. My understanding is that tobacco was imported and then cigarettes manufactured in Australia. Whereas now there is no tobacco production ( ceased in 2007) or cigarette manufacture in Australia at all.

    The industry needs to cease shipments for a couple of weeks.

    15% of the adult population, plus all the social smokers going without a gasper would give the government more than a few headaches.

  12. Bruce of Newcastle

    Australia doesn’t produce tobacco

    Not true. Of course we do. You just don’t hear about it, mostly.

    The Australian Taxation Office and Australian Federal Police located 350,000 mature tobacco plants worth an estimated $15 million after raiding the 20ha rural site 40km from the Melbourne CBD, as part of the joint Operation Garnet.

    That was a month ago. Its estimated that a quarter of tobacco consumed in Oz is either grown here illegally or illegally imported.

    Tobacco taxation is textbook Laffer Curve, complete with business opportunity for that most capitalistic sector of our community. And agricultural opportunity if Customs get too good at their job. What the customer wants the customer will get.

  13. incoherent rambler

    So why is this government continuing with the commercially unviable NBN?
    Corruption?
    So why is this government continuing with the now proven NDIS failure?
    Gutless.
    So why is this government continuing with the RET now that temps haven’t risen for 17 years?
    Slow learners.
    So why is this government continuing with their plans for a million trees, given the above?
    Stupidity and it is a tool to brutalize farmers.
    So why is this government continuing with their plans for a “Green Army” given the above?
    They think greens will vote for them. Ho ho …
    So why is this government continuing with Gonski, when more money has never worked before?
    Corruption.
    So why is this government continuing with the PPL, when we can’t afford it?
    Idiocy.
    So why is this government raising expenditure and taxes, after campaigning on reducing expenditure and cutting taxes?
    Media advisor has told them that there is votes in mendacity.

  14. Sinclair Davidson

    Yes – local manufacture of cigarettes from imported tobacco.

  15. cuckoo

    But you know that if you could get a Green/nanny-statist and clamp their eyes open long enough to force them to look at that graph (Beethoven soundtrack optional), they would insist that, even if plain packaging doesn’t stop a single person smoking, it’s still worth doing.

  16. Andrew

    Since it’s impossible to believe that tobacco consumption has more than doubled since the insane regulatory distraction, why do we actually think this enormous increase occurred? All I see is implausible statistics implying a nonsensical correlation. Pretty much like everything that comes from the Kouk, come to think of it.

    (Incidentally, when they resume hanging of leftists, Kouk is about 4th to go.)

  17. kc

    The whole tobacco “restrictions” just like the binge drinking laws are a classic marketing backfire that industry is aware of but the incompetent ex Government had no idea. What is the quickest way to get a teenager to do something?? Tell them they bloody can’t! If you want to increase the sales of anything into the “youf” market, tell them they can’t have it, then just sit back and watch the sales explode. With addictive products like “smokes” it’s a sure fire winner.

  18. Ant

    For a leftist, the fact that one of their enlightened ideas when implemented turns out to be a big cagata is not in itself proof that the idea has failed, but merely evidence that the implementation needs adjustment with the injection of much more free money.

  19. Sinclair Davidson

    Bruce of Newcastle – I have no doubt that illegal tobacco is produced in Australia, along with all sorts of other illegal drugs. When I wrote the post I did give some thought to talking about that.

    Overall, the point is that legal tobacco consumption has increased. To be sure, some of that is likely to be a substitution from illegal tobacco. Overall, however, tobacco consumption from all sources will have increased since the plain packaging rules were increased.

  20. nerblnob

    1. Proponents of plain packaging in the UK are still claiming that it’s been a great success in Australia.

    2. It seems to me that there is now a plethora of small tobacconist shops in Australian cities. The growth seems recent. I doubt there’s any data on it yet. Anyone else noticed the same?

  21. laugh out loud

    The stats show $ value not weight which would be the correct measure. $ value would have increased considerably in this period as excise went up. It remains an open question. I await the stats on weight and number of sticks.

  22. nerblnob

    The stats show $ value not weight which would be the correct measure. $ value would have increased considerably in this period as excise went up

    .
    Wasn’t the price increase meant to drive down consumption?

  23. Grant B

    There’s a noticable increase in the chop chop trade in my pub. And it’s not bad stuff either (-;)

  24. Sinclair Davidson

    Looks like the definition of ‘customs value’ is pre-excise etc.

  25. Bill Shut

    Found a small typo Sinc…
    The bottom line is this – the plain packaging experiment failed and failed dismally.
    should read
    The bottom line is this – the ALP experiment failed and failed dismally.

  26. Sinclair Davidson

    the ALP experiment failed and failed dismally.

    Alas, no. The legislation had bipartisan support.

  27. Joe Goodacre

    Is there information available on units imported?

    Tracking a change in dollars can be misleading if the premise isn’t correct that prices have stayed constant over that period.

    Agree that one would tend to think that the data is showing that plain packaging has meant that people now buyer cheaper brands and more of them since they’re buying a cheaper product.

  28. laugh out loud

    It fails the laugh out loud test – using dollar values implies almost a doubling of consumption. Using a dollar figure is simply the wrong measure. It doesn’t provide adequate support for your contention that consumption has increased.

  29. Sinclair Davidson

    It doesn’t provide adequate support for your contention that consumption has increased.

    :) Of course not. According to lefties there will never be enough evidence to discredit the plain packaging policy.

  30. .

    That was a month ago. Its estimated that a quarter of tobacco consumed in Oz is either grown here illegally or illegally imported.

    Right. So Koukoulas relying on ABS data was being a gullible little lamb. His argument is nonsense.

  31. Aristogeiton

    Sinclair Davidson
    #1340393, posted on June 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm
    It doesn’t provide adequate support for your contention that consumption has increased.

    :) Of course not. According to lefties there will never be enough evidence to discredit the plain packaging policy.

    Per Thomas Sowell:

    ‘I see this happening on all sorts of issues, from Federal Reserve policies on across the board. You say: “Here’s this wonderful program, and it will do wonderful things and the burden of proof is on others to show that it will not do those things”, and no matter how long it’s been going on, it’s never long enough. If it fails there just wasn’t enough commitment, the budget wasn’t big enough, it should have had a larger staff, wider powers. But there is never any sense of a burden of proof on you to [...] advance the empirical evidence to support what you’ve been doing.
    [...]
    Well, what is a sufficient period? [...] What temporal units are we talking about? Centuries? Decades?’
    (Thomas Sowell)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5BMGYkVdX8

  32. Aristogeiton

    Here’s an example of a conviction for chop-chop production:

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/no-jail-for-illegal-tobacco/story-e6freoof-1111115332467

    This one is unreported, but I have read at least two reported decisions for similar offences. This is a real thing.

  33. johanna

    You bet it’s real, Aristo. In my neck of the woods, chop chop, home-grown and illegal imports are very much in evidence. Indeed, with prices going up again in a few months I’m on the lookout for a supplier myself. I prefer one with most of his/her teeth and no convictions recorded, so it might take a while :)

    But sooner or later, the government is going to lose yet another tobacco tax milch cow – this one.

  34. Infidel Tiger

    It fails the laugh out loud test – using dollar values implies almost a doubling of consumption. Using a dollar figure is simply the wrong measure. It doesn’t provide adequate support for your contention that consumption has increased.

    The industry’s figures compiled by KPMG claim 60,000,000 extra sticks have been sold.

    You won’t believe that figure because you are a turd and the report was paid for by sweet rich tobaccy.

  35. Every dog has its day

    IT: “The industry’s figures compiled by KPMG claim 60,000,000 extra sticks have been sold.”

    Thats such a shame. All those lives cut short by cancer; a close friend died from lung cancer caused by smoking, such a sad loss of a young lady’s life.

    Still, by now people should understand the dangers. Its such a shame that rational addiction results in an early grave.

  36. laugh out loud

    Sinclair – you are a professor, right? Its not about “lefties” not accepting that the policy may have failed, its about what you present as evidence to support your argument. What you have presented is completely inadequate. You have used a measure of value, not volume.

  37. laugh out loud

    I would prefer figures from the Australian Customs Service – what has been imported in weight and sticks and the excise paid.

  38. Joe Goodacre

    laugh out loud,

    If that’s your preference, no one is stopping from working out the numbers yourself.

    Is it conclusive evidence? No.

    Other explanations:

    a) the price of cigarettes has gone up nearly 2/3 in one year; or
    b) people are stockpiling inventory of generic brands.

    They’re possible but unlikely.

    It’s an interesting snapshot anyway and provides another bit of evidence that plain packaging may not have been the anti-smoking saviour it was cracked up to be.

  39. johanna

    may not have been the anti-smoking saviour it was cracked up to be.

    Piss off, Concern Troll.

  40. Andrew

    the ALP experiment failed and failed dismally.

    Alas, no. The legislation had bipartisan support.

    Since A666 was one of the most gracious LOTOs in history, respecting their mandate to do stupid leftist shit 87% of the time and only opposing the most egregiously criminal, a bipartisan vote shouldn’t imply support or blame.

  41. Joe Goodacre

    Jo, you’re not still burning about your epic Othello fail are you?

  42. Aristogeiton

    Joe Goodacre
    #1341074, posted on June 9, 2014 at 11:33 pm
    Jo, you’re not still burning about your epic Othello fail are you?

    How’s the self-awareness on Bloviacre?

  43. Infidel Tiger

    Still, by now people should understand the dangers. Its such a shame that rational addiction results in an early grave.

    It’s not a shame at all.

    Free to choose. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  44. Joe Goodacre

    How’s the self-awareness

    Coming from a stalker who threatens to tell someone’s employer about their activities on the Cat, pretty good.

    How’s Mortein’s latest innovations – keep you down much?

  45. Gab

    Lawd you two are tedious and really bring the IQ of the place down with your petty schlonger fights.

  46. Aristogeiton

    Joe Goodacre
    #1341091, posted on June 9, 2014 at 11:41 pm
    How’s the self-awareness

    Coming from a stalker who threatens to tell someone’s employer about their activities on the Cat, pretty good.

    Lies, but what else to expect from you?

  47. Every dog has its day

    IT: “It’s not a shame at all. ” Dude, have you ever seen a loved one die from lung cancer? I’m guessing not.

    Preventable and premature death laves a trial of destruction and wrecks the lives of others. Dont get me wrong, its no excuse for government regulation, but it is an excuse for peers and friends to intervene.

  48. JohnR

    It’s nice to be so certain of your facts and have something to blame, Every Dog, however my neice died of cancer at age 25. She was a non-smoker.

  49. .

    Robert Frost — ‘I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.’

    Here’s a tip – everyone dies.

  50. Twodogs

    If the graphs are an indication of tobacco use in Australia I will eat my hat. Tobacco companies are leeches and death dealing monsters that only understand money and greed, they care not for human suffering or life.

    If the import graph indicates an identical rise in use then the tobacco companies would be doing backflips of joy, withdrawing all global lawsuits and insisting on plain packaging around the world because it is an advertising winfall that has been totally funded by the Australian taxpayer… This whole shambolic episode is an indicator of the immaturity and stupidity of the media for giving it oxygen…

  51. Infidel Tiger

    If the graphs are an indication of tobacco use in Australia I will eat my hat. Tobacco companies are leeches and death dealing monsters that only understand money and greed, they care not for human suffering or life.

    Don’t be such a hyperventilating fag.

    Tobacco is a legal product, enjoyed by millions of Australians young and old. It’s one of life’s great pleasures and the most social of vices.

    Plain packaging has damaged Tobacco companies by reducing consumption a of higher margin prestige brands as consumers switch to the cheaper floor sweepings.

  52. .

    Tobacco companies are leeches and death dealing monsters that only understand money and greed

    Their customers know it can kill them yet freely choose to purchase cigarettes.

    Please stop with the childish, irresponsible nonsense.

    All excise tax does is that it makes poor people poorer and funds yet more job and prosperity destroying government waste and idiocy.

  53. Infidel Tiger

    Just heard the loathsome Xenophon on 6PR calling the tobacco companies “scum” . The leftwing knob jockey host thought Seantor Nanny was too soft and that tobacco should be illegal.

    Then the calls came in… all agreed.

    Fuck this country.

  54. johanna

    Yep, IT. Child molesters are just misunderstood. But smokers are a threat to society who need to be crushed with steel-capped boots.

    Poor fellow my country.

  55. Every dog has its day

    yes dot, everybody dies. its one of lifes joys. but some premature deaths are avoidable. Or are you so afflicted by leftism that you cant see the value of life?

  56. Every dog has its day

    JohnR, I am sorry to hear about your niece. Was it lung cancer? Our friend died at 32. She was a chain smoker. Doctors were confident it was the smoking that did it.

  57. Every dog has its day

    IT: “Tobacco is a legal product, enjoyed by millions of Australians young and old. It’s one of life’s great pleasures and the most social of vices. ” Smokers stink, literally. And when the harm themselves they expect the taxpayer to fork the bill. Selfish bastards.

  58. .

    Every dog has its day
    #1342043, posted on June 10, 2014 at 6:55 pm
    yes dot, everybody dies. its one of lifes joys. but some premature deaths are avoidable. Or are you so afflicted by leftism (WTF? LOL) that you cant see the value of life?

    Right.

    So you’re a troll, or an imbecile who hates freedom, or both.

  59. .

    Smokers stink, literally. And when the harm themselves they expect the taxpayer to fork the bill. Selfish bastards.

    Fuck off you dumb, brainwashed child.

    The idea that smokers cost society is a myth.

    You are perpetuating bullshit. Just fuck off.

  60. wreckage

    Tobacco companies will be switching to vapour inhalation anon; which is why the crusaders are so desperate to prove it’s “just as bad”.

    Remember that case in the US where the Tobacco companies got sued? It was because cigarettes are a defective product: designed to deliver nicotine, but causing cancer instead – more or less.

    Which establishes in law, at least in the US, that nicotine is legal and safe, but inhaling smoke is not. The tobacco companies will move to nicotine inhalation, and nobody will stop them.

    As a result, people who enjoy nicotine will stop dying of cancer, which will make the crusaders very, very angry: people with vices should at least die horribly, even if burning in hell is off the cards these days.

  61. wreckage

    I think Dog just got very effectively trolled by IT.

  62. Every dog has its day

    Dot writes: “The idea that smokers cost society is a myth.” Yeah, they must be the only ones that dont rip off the taxpayer. Which communist faction are you a member of dot?

  63. .

    A total piss take, but a total waste of time.

    Smokers are net taxpayers. They subsidise the care and old age of others.

    This is a fact. We have done this to death here. Please buzz off and do your own homework.

    You seem to think communism involve laissez faire economics and a hands off, live and let live approach to social issues.

    Your poor dumb, stupid fuckwit. Or troll. Or both.

  64. Every dog has its day

    dot, who loves you baby. chill out man. it will do you some good

  65. .

    Get this through your head.

    Smokers subsidise everyone else. They pay extra taxes which more than cover their acute and chronic public care.

    Furthermore, Medicare has very little to do with this sort of care.

    Stop spouting imbecile nonsense.

  66. JC

    Smokers stink, literally. And when the harm themselves they expect the taxpayer to fork the bill. Selfish bastards.

    There’s around 7 billion a year coming in from tobacco excise, you fucking moron. Smokers are overpaying for their care needs.

    If you don’t like how a smoker smells then don’t go near one. Oh and fuck off.

    We’ve had enough of failed nanny state interventions and interventionist dickheads..

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