The numbers you are looking for

The Health Department had weighed into the smoking debate with “new” information.

There are two things that really jumped out at me:

Question: Have tobacco sales increased since the introduction of tobacco plain packaging on 1 December 2012?
Answer: Tobacco sales data are not publicly available.

The Health Department then waffles on about the ABS numbers that are the source of all the excitement.

Then there is this graph:

Tobacco policy

There is a long-term downward trend in tobacco usage in Australia. We all know and understand this to be the case. But look at the impact policy has had on usage. Nothing. The downward trend doesn’t seem to respond much to ever increasing regulation.

Must be fantastic work – regulate an industry and have no metric to demonstrate the efficacy of any particular policy.

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27 Responses to The numbers you are looking for

  1. Ant

    On Planet Bureaucracy nonsense makes perfect sense.

  2. .

    Must be fantastic work – regulate an industry and have no metric to demonstrate the efficacy of any particular policy.

    Burn!

  3. struth

    They invalidate themselves with this graph. Too stupid.

  4. As differs from the Numbers we never look for, but who turns up anyway. God bless his little cotton socks.

  5. Infidel Tiger

    The Kouk has even managed to make PVO testy.

    I thought they’d be sharing a hymn book.

  6. Aristogeiton

    Infidel Tiger
    #1351421, posted on June 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm
    The Kouk has even managed to make PVO testy.

    I thought they’d be sharing a hymn book.

    Link?

  7. Des Deskperson

    What’s the Coalition’s policy on plain packaging? It did not oppose the legislation, but I don’t know if there has been any updating or change now it is in Government.

    I ask because the Health Department clearly seems to be defending the policies of a previous Government, a little unwise and maybe unethical, one might argue, particularly as the debate has now been politicised by the interventions of former Gillard Government advisers. The fact that the Health input adds little to the debate might also fuel perceptions that the department is politically rather than professionally motivated.

    Maybe I’m just squeamish, but if I were Secretary of Health, I wouldn’t have done or allowed this.

  8. Aristogeiton

    Des Deskperson
    #1351429, posted on June 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm
    [...]
    Maybe I’m just squeamish, but if I were Secretary of Health, I wouldn’t have done or allowed this.

    There are a lot of things you probably wouldn’t do.

  9. Aristogeiton

    Philippa Martyr
    #1351411, posted on June 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm
    As differs from the Numbers we never look for, but who turns up anyway. God bless his little cotton socks.

    He was in the other tobacco thread today, repeating the Kouk’s lies.

  10. Paul in the Adelaide Hills

    I have been following the tobacco debate with interest. I think the general downward trend in tobacco use is at least partly due to product replacement, particularly with illicit drugs. Any thoughts?

  11. Ubique

    The assault on Big Tobacco is never accompanied by information on the rate of marijuana consumption, or for that matter its health effects. Thanks to the Health Department, about three generations of Australians have grown up thinking smoking marijuana is harmless.

    In Western Australia smoking on the beach between the flags or at a restaurant attracts a fine of $1,500. If you inform Mr Plod that it’s not tobacco but marijuana you’re smoking, you avoid the fine but might be required to attend a counselling session.

  12. entropy

    So, the policy has failed to reduce smoking, and due to unintended consequences, has shifted the market downwards to poorer quality death sticks, rollies and illegal chop chop.

    So are likely to see the policy repealed? Not on your Nellie. The naive politician who gets up and says “look, it’s bad policy, and we shouldn’t keep bad policies. Let’s repeal it” would be portrayed, in order of evilness, as a promoter of evil tobacco, cancer lover, sadistic, a child killer, in the pay of big tobacco, the devil incarnate, and finally a member of the IPA.

    Needless to say we are stuck with this stupid law. Much more likely is the introduction of even more bad policy to fix up this bad policy. Because parliament is chock full of lawyers, and regulation is what lawyers do.

  13. alan moran

    And yet, abstracting from all the assaults on individual rights and state dictats over personal preferences, catallactically is there not some ipso facto association of sales with promotion and advertising? People may well beat a path to the door of the seller offering the best mousetrap but they come faster and more passionately if they read some enticing material extolling it.

    Branding is a great way of assuring buyers of a consistency of product and thereby promoting its sales hence the tobacco firms’ hostility to government expropriation of this expensively developed marketing tool. It may well be that the enforced reduction of advertising together with price increases has led to consumers drifting towards lower cost and lower quality tobacco (including that which is excise free) but would we not also expect some impact on aggregate demand?

  14. 1234

    One could argue that all those changes are cumulative and have contributed to the downward trend

  15. Because parliament is chock full of lawyers, and regulation is what lawyers do.

    I’ll tell you something else lawyers and politicians don’t do, entropy. Drug tests on the way into the chamber. Frankly, I reckon about 50% of the bastards would fail at the front gate.

  16. walking through the tulips

    The downward trend doesn’t seem to respond much to ever increasing regulation.

    The question is, what would the plot look like without the increased regulation? Would we expect a flattening out instead of a roughly linear decline?

  17. wreckage

    but would we not also expect some impact on aggregate demand?

    Do people tend to consume more or less of non-premium goods?

    Compare especially with other drugs. If someone shows up with a $500 bottle of wine, are they going to be drinking more or less than the chap with the goon? Meanwhile, who is selling more grams of beef, Mc Donalds or the local purveyor of organic vegetarian-fed free-range wagyu?

    Overall any given market is driven by demand, supply, and price, not by slogans. Slogans and advertising allow companies to compete for market share or place quality premiums on their goods… quality premiums that reduce demand but increase the margin per-unit.

    Further, the policy is incoherent. By making it illegal to engage in the practices firms use to increase their own prices, they have partially reversed the ongoing policy of reducing tobacco consumption by driving up price.

  18. Aristogeiton

    walking through the tulips
    #1351682, posted on June 18, 2014 at 6:50 pm
    The downward trend doesn’t seem to respond much to ever increasing regulation.

    The question is, what would the plot look like without the increased regulation? Would we expect a flattening out instead of a roughly linear decline?

    I’d expect roughly identical levels of: a) hysteria, and b) demand for state intervention. Liberty indicators l) would be unaffected, remaining at historic lows, in spite of data countervailing a) and/or b), and/or supporting increased l).

  19. wreckage

    The question is, what would the plot look like without the increased regulation? Would we expect a flattening out instead of a roughly linear decline?

    We should normally expect to see the graph changing when a new policy is introduced.

  20. 1234

    You could argue given the data that all the initiatives support and reinforce the downward trend

  21. 1234

    The issue could be resolved if the industry provided the data – but they refuse so why believe them?

  22. Aristogeiton

    1234
    #1351741, posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:34 pm
    You could argue given the data that all the initiatives support and reinforce the downward trend

    They either have a very long lead time, or an extremely short one. Whichever, each and every one of the initiatives is the same. Magic!

  23. Aristogeiton

    1234
    #1351745, posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm
    The issue could be resolved if the industry provided the data – but they refuse so why believe them?

    What’s wrong with the ABS data? It demonstrates the point of the post perfectly. How would industry data help, in your view?

  24. .

    1234
    #1351741, posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:34 pm
    You could argue given the data that all the initiatives support and reinforce the downward trend

    No. No you can’t.

    Please read:

    Applied Econometric Times Series, 3rd Edition (Wiley)

    Walter Enders
    October 2009, ©2010

    Chapter 5 MULTIEQUATION TIME-SERIES MODELS.

    1 Intervention Analysis.

  25. Aristogeiton

    .
    #1351755, posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:42 pm
    1234
    #1351741, posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:34 pm
    You could argue given the data that all the initiatives support and reinforce the downward trend

    No. No you can’t.

    Please read:

    Applied Econometric Times Series, 3rd Edition (Wiley)

    Walter Enders
    October 2009, ©2010

    Chapter 5 MULTIEQUATION TIME-SERIES MODELS.

    1 Intervention Analysis.

    Oooh! Can I have some CliffNotes? I am jealous of people who know economics.

  26. Tel

    The downward trend doesn’t seem to respond much to ever increasing regulation.

    Draw a chart on money spent by government departments to “do something” about this problem that is fixing itself, and was only a problem in the eyes of people who feel the need to tell other people how to live anyway.

  27. Cynic

    Not sure how you could identify any positive of negative impact from the plain packaging from the data. It would appear that some of the boffins on this blog think you could using multi-equation time-series models.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their work…….

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