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.
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.