Verballed by the Guardian

Yesterday the Guardian Australian had this piece:

One of the opinion pieces was written by Professor Sinclair Davidson, an economist at RMIT and a senior fellow at the IPA, which has reportedly received funds from the tobacco industry. British American Tobacco Australia told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2012 it was a member of the IPA. [That used to be called guilt by association. Sinc]

Davidson wrote that plain packaging policy introduced by the previous Labor government was “state-sponsored persecution of that minority who consume tobacco”.

Davidson was also quoted in the newspaper as saying: “I have no doubt that the consumption of cigarettes has risen since plain packaging was introduced; we just can’t be sure whether it is by existing smokers or new smokers.”

But according to the department of health, recent figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that total consumption of tobacco and cigarettes in the March quarter 2014 is the lowest ever recorded.

It has dropped from $3.508bn in December 2012 to 3.405 billion in March 2014.

Actually Davidson did not write the “plain packaging policy introduced by the previous Labor government was “state-sponsored persecution of that minority who consume tobacco”. Rather Davidson wrote:

All this is over and above the illegitimacy of state-sponsored persecution of that minority who consume tobacco.

The anti-tobacco lobby would like us to believe that they have pursued a campaign against an industry and a product. They expressly use terms such as “stigmatisation” and “denormalisation”. But, of course, you can’t stigmatise or denormalise industries or products you can only stigmatise or denormalise people.

I have written about this before in a different context:

Then there are framing issues. Both the Government and the Opposition say they want to break the people-smugglers business model. That sounds all very sensible, the argument being that people shouldn’t risk life and limb in search of a better life. Yet, in practice, what does that mean? As the current GetUp! ad quotes Chris Bowen saying, ‘The Pacific solution did not break the people smugglers’ business model; it broke the will and spirit of asylum seekers’.

Breaking the people smuggler’s business model means breaking the people; that is policy design, not some unintended consequence.

I’m not to the first person to think about the stigmatisation of smokers either.

Here is a paper in the American Journal of Public Health from 2005. More recently:

To date, the debate about smoking and stigma has been largely conducted by and within the public health research community. While there are dissenting voices, it is generally agreed that smoking and smokers are stigmatised and that tobacco control policies are likely to have contributed to this process, but the public health gains outweigh these social costs.

That is a very surprising conclusion given the history of social policies that seek to stigmatise and denormalise people. There was a time when the Guardian wouldn’t have any truck with that sort of thing.

Moving on.

The Guardian next points to the ABS data showing that household expenditure on tobacco declined in the March 2014 quarter. Sigh. This is a classic Type III error – the correct answer to a different question. I am quoted this morning in the Australian:

“We are not interested so much in how much households spend on tobacco and tobacco products, but on how much tobacco is actually being consumed,” Professor Davidson said yesterday.

It is quite possible for expenditure to decrease while consumption increases – I’ve been saying this all along. Here is a worked example. Christopher Snowdon is good on this point too.

Adam Creighton actually spoke the ABS yesterday – emphasis added.

Most important, the ABS said: “The number of cigarettes per packet is not picked up in the aggregate sales data and the ABS does not measure or estimate the number of cigarettes consumed.”

Makes you wonder if the journalist at the Guardian bothered to contact the ABS?

What I find most astonishing about all this is the policy denial. The notion that a government policy that targets smokers and smoking is simply beyond question – that no ex post analysis is necessary. That the policy need not pass any cost-benefit analysis.

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81 Responses to Verballed by the Guardian

  1. Allow me to congratulate you. Verballed by the Guardian – high praise indeed!

  2. ar

    The notion that a government policy that targets smokers and smoking is simply beyond repute

    See also spending on education, disabled…

  3. Rabz

    the IPA, which has reportedly received funds from the tobacco industry

    FFS, they’re nothing if not predictable.

  4. Rabz

    The Grauniad, not da IPA!

  5. Infidel Tiger

    One of the problems with fewer and fewer people smoking is that the most people aren’t getting the necessary time outs to think and nicotine’s wonderful properties that help short term memory.

    We will see more and more of these egregious errors.

  6. Spider

    And the fact that you are obviously in bed with big tobacco is all that needs to be said apparently.

    So much of public policy seems to be based on wishful thinking. And if it’s not working its not the policy its those contrary folk who willfully chose to ignore it and fall into line.

    The debate is about evidence not whether smoking is good for you.

  7. Rabz

    The notion that a government policy that targets smokers and smoking is simply beyond repute

    “Beyond question”, surely, Sinc – or otherwise “beyond ill-repute”. :?

    [Indeed. Yes, thank you. Sinc]

  8. Rabz

    P.S. I can understand you writing that while seeing through a red mist, Davidson!

  9. Gab

    IF the IPA is in bed with Big Tobacco then I urge all smokers to take out a membership with the IPA.

  10. Infidel Tiger

    No problem having post-coital smoke then.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    Hmmm, this Guardian?

    Guardian CEO: my newspaper can’t survive in the UK

    Riches to rags as Guardian bleeds £33m in a year

    You must be doing something right, Sinc, to attract their attention.

  12. History

    Sinclair, you should be commended for touching on the repugnance of “de-normalization”. Few are willing to touch it.

    It has to be remembered that all of this “we should try everything to reduce/eliminate smoking” was entirely unacceptable 30 years ago. People could recognize moralizing zealotry when they heard it. And they didn’t like it. It’s entirely at odds with a relatively free society and the critical idea of individual autonomy. That’s why the zealots had to contrive secondhand smoke “danger” to keep their social-engineering crusade alive. And salami-slice at a time, government and sections of the public have since been manipulated into a prohibition crusade, into what was seen as repugnant only a few decades ago. Insight on a mass scale has been lost.

    “which has reportedly received funds from the tobacco industry.”

    It’s a standard smear routine/tactic by the moralizing zealots and their faithful disciples.

    This from SimonChapman’s “The Lung Goodbye” (1983) [how to do propaganda]:

    “Such a list could be added to considerably, but most entries would be characterized by being somehow cast in a mythological good versus evil battle in an arena observed by mass numbers of people. The good (health/clean air/children) versus evil (cancer/uncaring, callous industry) dimension is the ineluctable bottom line in the whole issue and a rich reservoir for spawning a great deal of useful social drama, metaphor, and symbolic politics that is the stuff of ‘news value’ and which is almost always to the detriment of the industry.” p.11 (see Godber Blueprint)

    This entire “Us vs them” framework was contrived by the fanatics decades ago. Having cast themselves in the role of the “mythological good” (natch), the zealots are always right. Anyone who dares disagree with them is always wrong and part of some “evil” tobacco industry “conspiracy”. It’s all for manipulative, “theatrical” effect – although there are some in the antismoking movement that believe they are “god-like” – and has been quite successfully used for the last three decades on an essentially superficial/gullible political class, media, and public. Disagree with the fanatics and you’ll be accused of being an emissary of the “evil” tobacco industry, a promoter of cancer, and a child corrupter/killer. The zealots and their financial partners (government and Pharma) must have regular belly laughs at how all too easy the brainwashing has been.

    The constant moralizing finger-waggers are moral frauds.

  13. Steve

    The purpose of plain packaging is to make smoking less attractive to new smokers, because they will no longer have their brand as a signal of their status. These early statistics are too volatile to tell whether it is working.

    The analysis that says that people are smoking more sticks due to switching to low priced brands seems wrong to me. I understand that the cheapest price for a pack has not fallen since plain packaging was introduced. That is, there has been no price fall. The argument has to be that people are now more willing to take up those existing low prices (and smoke more per day, take it up or fewer give up) because of plain packaging (ie., because their friends can no longer tell they are smoking the cheap brands). That argument seems a big stretch to me (i.e., it is based on speculation not economic analysis).

    It will be important that buying illegal cigarettes does not become ‘normal’. This is unlikely in Australia, particularly given the efforts of the Government in securing our boarders.

  14. Percy

    No problem having post-coital smoke then.

    Considering smokers are getting screwed every time they buy a pack, one could consider every smoke to be ‘post-coital’

  15. Infidel Tiger

    It will be important that buying illegal cigarettes does not become ‘normal’. This is unlikely in Australia, particularly given the efforts of the Government in securing our boarders.

    Yeah, as a nation we have completely abstained from illegal drugs. I’m sure the same will happen with tobacco.

  16. Rabz

    It will be important that buying illegal cigarettes does not become ‘normal’. This is unlikely in Australia, particularly given the efforts of the Government in securing our boarders.

    So, the lodgers aren’t likely to engage in the consumption of illicit substances thanks to the efforts of the Gubberment.

    WTF are these people smoking?

  17. Steve

    “Yeah, as a nation we have completely abstained from illegal drugs. I’m sure the same will happen with tobacco.”

    I said become normal. The tobacco industry claim that a large proportion of cigarette purchase (15+%) are currently illegal and this will go to 30+% after plain packaging. I see no evidence of this. How many people here buy their cigarettes illegally?

  18. Steve

    “So, the lodgers aren’t likely to engage in the consumption of illicit substances thanks to the efforts of the Gubberment.”

    Governments can do a lot to make it hard to traffic illegal cigarettes in a country with sea boarders and tightly regulated distribution. Particularly to stop it from becoming a large share of the market, ie, normal for the average person. Do you disagree? Why?

  19. History

    Steve: “The purpose of plain packaging is to make smoking less attractive to new smokers…”

    Why? Who decided this?

    With a few decades of obscene amounts of funding and unquestioned access to the media, the antismoking nut cases have done a wonderful job. They’ve gotten more children off cigarettes and onto [fully illegal] marijuana. Great accomplishment! And the kids aren’t being attracted to the weed through attractive packaging. It usually comes in a ball of crumpled cling wrap.

    CDC: More US teens smoke marijuana than cigarettes

    Steve, I suspect you might be a disciple of the [deranged] antismoker cult.

  20. History

    When people agree with antismoking measures, it’s because antismokers are right.

    When people disagree with antismoking measures, it’s because antismokers are right.

    Antismokers are always right.

    Can’t get more scientific than that.

    :)

  21. Steve

    ” I suspect you might be a disciple of the [deranged] antismoker cult.”

    I am not. I like to think I am a disciple of good economic analysis, and as such, I took real issue with Ergas’ piece in the Australian, which appeared to be supported by the comments above by Davidson.

  22. 1234

    The problem is no one has done the analysis – and that includes you and The Australian
    But somehow it ends as a beat up on that pages of The Australian.

  23. History

    Steve, give us a “good economic analysis” of economists advising government to constantly hike tobacco taxes to the point of allowing a contraband market to flourish. The antismoking nut cases (including economists) will then deny that a contraband market exists. If it’s beyond denial, they’ll claim that it has nothing to do with them and extortionate taxes…… [poof] …. a contraband market just popped up out of thin air [to thwart all of their “wonderful” work].

  24. Rabz

    Governments can do a lot to make it hard to traffic illegal cigarettes in a country with sea boarders and tightly regulated distribution.

    Peoples – we have a live one here.

  25. Sinclair Davidson

    Governments can do a lot to make it hard to traffic illegal cigarettes in a country with sea boarders and tightly regulated distribution.

    Apparently not.

  26. Blair

    Steve
    “The purpose of plain packaging is to make smoking less attractive to new smokers, because they will no longer have their brand as a signal of their status”
    So a potential smoker won’t take up the habit because their peers can’t see the brand name prominently displayed. A bevan /bogan won’t take up smoking because he/she can’t easily show mates that they are smoking Winnie reds and not some pooftah brand.
    Very interesting.

  27. Infidel Tiger

    Governments can do a lot to make it hard to traffic illegal cigarettes in a country with sea boarders and tightly regulated distribution.

    How does one get this stupid?

  28. Steve

    “give us a “good economic analysis” of economists advising government to constantly hike tobacco taxes to the point of allowing a contraband market to flourish.”

    The economic analysis is that high prices will lead to incentives for contraband. However, the ability of contraband to flourish lie in the ability of authorities to detect its distribution (think trucks, and shopfronts) and the willingness of people to consume it. Even at currently very high prices in Australia, the market for contraband is very small. I don’t see any evidence that refutes this.

  29. History

    “I am not. I like to think I am a disciple of good economic analysis, and as such, I took real issue with Ergas’ piece in the Australian, which appeared to be supported by the comments above by Davidson.”

    I suppose you also believe that antismoking zealots only deal in facts and are benevolent?

    Here’s a graphic put together summarizing the hate that’s been fomented by antismoking nut cases:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/hzc1cuv6wknzrjh/MasterHateFINALC45x30%20%28Custom%29.jpg

    You can magnify the image.

    Then there’s a whole section of society that believe that even a whiff of smoke outdoors could drop them dead….. you know…. the hand wavers, nose pinchers, and hand-cupped-over-the-mouth-ers.

    There’s suffering from a Public Health inflicted nocebo effect [google “nocebo & youtube” for an informative, short video]

    Steve, how do you do an economic analysis of this assault on mental and social health?

  30. Nitpickery:

    The things around a nation are called ‘BORDERS’.

    The people you rent out bedrooms to in a lodging-house are called ‘BOARDERS’.

  31. Steve

    “Steve, how do you do an economic analysis of this assault on mental and social health?”

    You cannot, that graphic is vile.

  32. James

    Can’t, you know, just grow tobacco, lol?

  33. tgs

    Even at currently very high prices in Australia, the market for contraband is very small. I don’t see any evidence that refutes this.

    Illegal tobacco sales deprived the Australian government of about A$1 billion ($946 million) of taxes in the 12 months ended in June, according to a report commissioned by cigarette makers.

    Accounting firm KPMG LLP released the study today as the first since a federal law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes in branded packages took effect Dec. 1 to discourage smoking and reduce related spending on health care. Illicit sales increased 1.5 percentage points to 13.3 percent of total shipments, while consumption didn’t drop in the year, according to the report.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-04/illegal-tobacco-cost-australia-a-1-billion-kpmg-report.html

  34. Steve

    “Apparently not.”

    You need more evidence than that to show the contraband market is big and will grow.

  35. Rabz

    How does one get this stupid?

    Being named “Steve” helps, it seems.

  36. You need more evidence than that to show the contraband market is big and will grow.

    Mmm, the trouble with contraband activity is that it’s – well – contraband. You can only count what you can pick up or see.

    Outside of this, you’re just guessing.

    I would say that if people are willing to take the risk of bringing in cheap cigarettes, then they are pretty certain there’s a market for them. It’s like any other kind of smuggling – the rewards have to make the risk worthwhile.

    So Steve, YOU don’t know whether the market is big or small, and neither do we.

    We just know it’s THERE, because the stuff is coming in and being sold.

  37. Steve

    I admit is hard to get independent evidence, “but according to a report commissioned by cigarette makers”, probably means you should discount it as evidence.

  38. Steve

    “Being named “Steve” helps, it seems.”

    You say that, but you are yet to contribute anything but a personal attack.

  39. Steve

    “So Steve, YOU don’t know whether the market is big or small, and neither do we.”

    Fair point, but for the market to be 15% that means nearly one in five pack are illegal. That means that more than 1 in 6 packs purchase are illegals, and it is claimed this will grow to 1 in 3. I call rubbish.

  40. I admit is hard to get independent evidence, “but according to a report commissioned by cigarette makers”, probably means you should discount it as evidence.

    So can we discount reports that are “commissioned by the Commonwealth government” – who stands to make a very decent haul out of excise taxes?

    And reports “commissioned by the ABS”, who are paid by the Commonwealth government?

    And reports “commissioned by the ALP”, who hate the Coalition government?

    EVERYONE has an axe to grind in this one. How about a report “commissioned by cigarette smugglers”?

  41. Fair point, but for the market to be 15% that means nearly one in five pack are illegal. That means that more than 1 in 6 packs purchase are illegals, and it is claimed this will grow to 1 in 3. I call rubbish.

    And that’s only the ones they’ve caught. Tee hee.

    And packs of what – rolling tobacco, or cigarettes,or cigars? They all have different buying demographics.

  42. Rabz

    you are yet to contribute anything but a personal attack

    Au contraire, squire, pointing out your absurd statements and regrettable spelling errors does not constitute a personal attack.

    It will be important that buying illegal cigarettes does not become ‘normal’. This is unlikely in Australia, particularly given the efforts of the Government in securing our boarders.

    Do you honestly think this is a sensible statement? Especially given the rate of marijuana consumption in this country and the ease with which it can be obtained?

  43. If this is to be an economic debate, maybe the costs of smoking to the Australian economy should be part of the discussion.
    Collins and Lapsley estimated that in 2004–05 the total cost of smoking in Australia was $31.5 billion.

    The largest part of that comes from the taxpayer, through the health system.
    I don’t know about you, but I don’t like paying for someone else’s stupidity.

  44. Steve

    “And packs of what – rolling tobacco, or cigarettes,or cigars? They all have different buying demographics.”

    As an experiment I went into my local tobacconist and asked for some chop chop. I started this by asking for his cheapest cigarettes and each time he offered legals, I kept asking for something cheaper. No luck, which is not a good anecdote for the claim that it is 15% of the market. Where do you buy it?

  45. Collins and Lapsley estimated that in 2004–05 the total cost of smoking in Australia was $31.5 billion.

    Yes, but the report included in its ‘cost’ calculation everything from ‘people who stub their toe on the way to the shops to buy a packet of fags’ right up to ‘people who die choking with lung cancer caused by a 1,000-fag a day habit.’

    G

  46. Rabz

    If this is to be an economic debate

    Then you’d best not try and get involved, you monumental dullard.

  47. And here we go with Collins and Lapsley:

    Three methodologic points need to be noted in relation to Collins and Lapsley’s cost estimates. First, they use the term ‘abuse’ when referring to tobacco use, on the basis that virtually all consumption is harmful to the smoker and in some instances others as well.

    Second, in contrast to the burden of disease study described in Section 17.2.1.1, Collins and Lapsley use what they refer to as a demographic approach (see Section 17.1.4.2). They compare the actual population size and structure in the specified year with a hypothetical alternative population in which there was no past abuse and there is no current abuse. Costs of past and present abuse are estimated in the year of the study only. So, for example, the cost in 2004–05 of a death due to tobacco smoking (death that occurred either in or before the year 2004–05) is estimated as the value of lost productive capacity in that year only. The value of a lost life, i.e. production foregone in subsequent years because of that death, is not estimated.

    Third, Collins and Lapsley estimate the net costs of smoking, taking into account both those costs that are made greater and those that are reduced because of current and past tobacco use. For example, smoking increases some health care costs because of the higher prevalence of diseases caused by smoking (in smokers and ex-smokers who are still alive). These are the gross health care costs attributable to smoking. However, certain other health care costs are lower than they otherwise would be because of the premature deaths of many people who smoked over the past 40 years. These people did not live to use health care that they otherwise would have, so Collins and Lapsley subtract the costs that would have been incurred from the gross health care costs attributable to smoking in order to estimate the net cost. Similarly, in terms of labour (production) costs first costs that are made greater by smoking are estimated. For example, the time spent undertaking domestic duties because a home-maker is ill or has died prematurely is costed assuming domestic help will be hired. Then, savings due to reduced consumption—for example, household spending on food and clothing—are subtracted because these costs will be lower when there are fewer people in the household as a result of smokers dying earlier.

    No modelling is precise – it’s modelling only, and these are estimates, with limitations. And you have to know the limitations and parameters of a modelling study like this.

  48. Steve

    “not constitute a personal attack”

    You called me stupid, or agreed with someone who did.

    “Do you honestly think this is a sensible statement?” Yes, if illegal tobacco becomes normal in Australia the policy may well be defeated. I don’t see it happening like it has in Europe where trucks move freely across borders. You are yet to tell me why it is wrong, by the way, you just keep talking about marijuana.

  49. Aristogeiton

    Steve
    #1352599, posted on June 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm
    [...]
    As an experiment I went into my local tobacconist chemist and asked for some chop chop weed. I started this by asking for his cheapest cigarettes strongest drugs and each time he offered legals, I kept asking for something cheaper stronger. No luck, which is not a good anecdote for the claim that it is 15% of the market available. Where do you buy it?

  50. Mater

    The largest part of that comes from the taxpayer, through the health system.
    I don’t know about you, but I don’t like paying for someone else’s stupidity.

    I’m with you Numbers, lets reform the health system funding!

  51. Bruce of Newcastle

    nearly one in five pack are illegal

    Apologies to Steve, unfortunately in recent history this blog has seen several Steves who were not quite attached to reality.

    BTW the stat is one in four. That was four years ago. With Roxon’s stupid legislation its probably higher again, now.

  52. Rabz

    a hypothetical alternative population in which there was no past abuse and there is no current abuse

    Must be one of those “bizarre parallel universes” we keep hearing so much about. The entire concept is utterly absurd.

  53. Steve

    “As an experiment I went into my local tobacconist chemist and asked for some chop chop weed. I started this by asking for his cheapest cigarettes strongest drugs and each time he offered legals, I kept asking for something cheaper stronger. No luck, which is not a good anecdote for the claim that it is 15% of the market available. Where do you buy it?”

    That is not a good analogy as the claim from tobacco companies is that existing distribution routes (e.g., corner stores and tobacconists” will be/is being used for contraband.

  54. History

    Governments can do a lot to make it hard to traffic illegal cigarettes in a country with sea boarders and tightly regulated distribution.
    Apparently not.

    And then there was this just recently

    Police seize 35,000 tobacco plants from Moorabool plantation
    http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/police-seize-35000-tobacco-plants-from-moorabool-plantation/story-fnjuhxh0-1226858499386

    Now that could reasonably be called industrial-scale cultivation.

  55. .

    Steve and numbers are gluttons for punishment.

    The facts stare them in the face and they are simply wrong. Yet they lead with their chin again and again.

    The costs of smoking are eleventy trillion buckaroos and no illegal sales of tobacco occur, they’ve seen it themselves!

  56. Bruce of Newcastle

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t like paying for someone else’s stupidity.

    Which is good since they are paying for you.

    The net cost of smoking to the health system is therefore $318.4 million, a figure that hardly makes a dent on the $8.85bn the government was expecting to collect from smokers this year, even without the additional revenue from the proposed excise increase.

    And Numbers, I can cheerfully say I have never smoked one cigarette, nor one toke, in my life. I may be a wowser, but does mean I can afford to indulge in the efforts of the local Hunter River wine producers.

  57. Rabz

    you just keep talking about marijuana.

    I’ve mentioned it once before this comment. If the government keeps driving up the price of tobacco, people will increasingly seek out and obtain cheaper and if necessary, illegal tobacco (‘chop chop’) – oh and here’s a hint – chop chop is way cheaper because there is no extortionate tax levied on it, being illegal and all that.

    Another hint – incredibly, the demand for tobacco is not elastic – poor people will go without other goods and services to maintain their habit.

    Why do you hate poor people and their children, Steve?

  58. History

    Steve: You cannot, that graphic is vile.

    You betcha that graphic is vile. That’s just a summary of a tiny fraction of the rabid antismoking comments that one is confronted with on blogs and article comment boards.

  59. Bruce of Newcastle

    Now that could reasonably be called industrial-scale cultivation.

    History, you missed a zero. It was actually 350,000 tobacco plants. Twenty hectares worth. Takes breathtaking balls to attempt that.

    And that is my point. You raise excise and all you do is create a profit motive for the underworld, and more demand from people who hitherto did not see it worth their while to break the law. A criminal version of the Laffer Curve.

  60. pete m

    This is better recognition that appearing in “Who’s Who”.

  61. Tim Neilson

    Steve,
    As I understand it, the estimates for illegal tobacco use are based in part on collecting empty cigarette packets and calculating the proportion that are fake/illegal. Those packets have to come from somewhere. So just because your local tobacconist thought you were an undercover cop and thus didn’t disclose his chop chop to you doesn’t mean that chop chop doesn’t exist.
    I mean seriously, a sample of one? Get real Steve.

  62. Rabz

    So, a person named Steve walks into a tobacconist …

  63. Steve

    “As I understand it, the estimates for illegal tobacco use are based in part on collecting empty cigarette packets and calculating the proportion that are fake/illegal. ”

    There are various ways to estimate it, that is one. Escalating the number of seizures is another. The two sides have estimates ranging from 2-15%. I still maintain that it would be very difficult to go to 30% in Australia, which is what the tobacco companies will need to show in order to defeat the legislation. If prices fall on the other hand (see other thread) then that may be a different story….

  64. tgs

    I still maintain that it would be very difficult to go to 30% in Australia, which is what the tobacco companies will need to show in order to defeat the legislation.

    Que?

  65. Empire

    Sounds like Stepford.

  66. What ever it takes

    All Prohibition in the USA did, was to make the gangsters wealthy and cause corruption of public officials. Plain packaging and ciggi super tax will have the bad guys rubbing their hands together.
    Funny how the people who support the tobacco laws would I imagine also support illegal downloading.

  67. .

    Tim Neilson
    #1352654, posted on June 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm
    Steve,
    As I understand it, the estimates for illegal tobacco use are based in part on collecting empty cigarette packets and calculating the proportion that are fake/illegal. Those packets have to come from somewhere. So just because your local tobacconist thought you were an undercover cop and thus didn’t disclose his chop chop to you doesn’t mean that chop chop doesn’t exist.
    I mean seriously, a sample of one? Get real Steve.

    Correct Tim.

    Sheer idiocy. This is Steve’s stock in trade.

  68. Bruce of Newcastle

    The two sides have estimates ranging from 2-15%.

    Try 25% four years ago Steve. Reported in a very lefty paper, who would not like undermining their patron saint St Roxon of the Prohibitioners. And it was acknowledged that plain packaging would increase the proportion since then.

    Money, as they say, talks.

  69. Notafan

    If people are selling ready made illegal cigarettes that look identical to the taxed equivalent, they could sell them to Joe public at the market price for taxed cigarettes. There is no requirement for them to pass on savings. Lots of ‘fake’ cigarettes in the European market.
    As for chop chop only a small number of smokers would buy loose tobacco and as with drug dealers you would have to be in the know.
    Looking at newspaper reports of chop chop busts more likely to get supply in certain ethnic communities, not the corner milk bar.

  70. Bruce of Newcastle

    Here is the quote I’m referring to Steve in the link I gave:

    Sydney University professor Renee Bittoun runs Australia’s only dedicated smoking cessation clinics in two of Sydney’s hospitals. She believes illegal tobacco, both locally grown and imported, is widespread and could account for a quarter of all tobacco being smoked in Australia.

    Bittoun fears that the government’s increase in excise will further increase illegal tobacco’s market share, doing even more damage to the lungs of those who inhale its smoke.

    My bolding. That was in 2010 well before the current politicisation.

  71. Aristogeiton

    Stop linking to that Cancer Council of Victoria hogwash, Steve.

  72. Infidel Tiger

    Sydney University professor Renee Bittoun runs Australia’s only dedicated smoking cessation clinics

    Bittoun the loon, also wants e-cigarettes banned.

  73. Steve

    “Here is the quote I’m referring to Steve”

    That is high relative to what BAT are saying.

  74. Steve

    “Stop linking to that Cancer Council of Victoria hogwash, Steve.”

    Only linking to defend my numbers of what the two sides are saying. It was not an endorsement of their work.

  75. areff

    Going rate in my neighbourhood for a box of 100 pre-rolled chop-chops, complete with filters: $27

    Price of Peter Jackson gold 30s, when purchased in a no-discount service station: $26

    Number of stores in my neighbourhood selling chop chop before plain packaging: 1

    Number of stores selling chop chop in my neighbourhood today: 5

    Oh, and one other development: last week at the golf course while relaxing with an adult beverage after 18 holes, a bloke I know by sight from the driving range ambled across and said, “You smoke, right? Want a carton of Marlboros at $7 a pack?”

    It was with great regret that I informed him I haven’t touched a fag since 10.17 on Easter Sunday, but if he had any cheap nicotine lozenges I’d take a bunch of those.

    The Marlboros, by the way, were obvious counterfeits, judging by the crappy printing and cheap cardboard box. But my golfing cobber tried one, announced his approval and went to the cash machine so he could buy two cartons. This is what is not happening, according to Steve, that towering intellect.

    If only the criminal-australian community would set to work and produce bootleg petrol as well….

  76. Cynic

    I’m not a smoker, but I constantly hear the arguments about the costs imposed on the health budget due to smoking and the counter arguments from smokers about the excessive excises. Surely the argument is pretty simple. There is not an additional impact on the health budget if smokers have already pre-paid for the additional health costs via the tobacco excise. All you smokers should argue that the excise should not go to consolidated revenue. Rather the excise should go straight to a hypothecated sinking fund to cover the heath costs for smoking related cancer treatment (think fuel excise for smokers where the payout is in the future). To the individual it is a sinking fund that pays out for the health care of the terminally ill.

    Sinclair reminded us of the miracle of compounding in another blog earlier today. This concept fits the tobacco excise well. If I smoke a packet a day (approximate excise of $10/packet), after 40 years (when I’ll probably need a bypass), the value of my contributions including compounding interest has accrued to about $150K. Hey presto. My sinking fund has covered the cost of my bypass and there is no cross subsidy from the non-smokers.

  77. John Ray (@jonjayray)

    Smokers should be stigmatized. They stink

  78. .

    If only the criminal-australian community would set to work and produce bootleg petrol as well….

    Well, the government has a programme for that…ethanol subsidies.

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