Why Stephen Koukoulas is plain wrong on cigarette packaging

In The Australian today:
“In this case too, as with climate change, “the science was settled”: plain packaging would “reduce the consumption of tobacco by about 6 per cent and the number of smokers by 2 to 3 per cent”.

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas is a columnist for The Australian newspaper and the inaugural Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong. The SMART Infrastructure Facility is a $61.8 million world-class research and training centre concerned with integrated infrastructure solutions for the future. Henry is also Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia. Prior to these concurrent roles Henry worked as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Henry's previous career was as an economist at the OECD in Paris, where amongst other roles he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment and was Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department.
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18 Responses to Why Stephen Koukoulas is plain wrong on cigarette packaging

  1. Andrew

    Because he’s the country’s leading wrongologist.

    If you want to continue the mockery, have a look at his posts in Dec about interest rates. They started rising rapidly in Feb, didn’t they?

  2. mundi

    With all the articles about pp in cat, you would think it to be the number 1 social issue…

  3. Splatacrobat

    Is there any data on the alcopops tax and how that has worked in reducing consumption? Maybe the Kook could boil those numbers too.

  4. johno

    Roxan and the Kouk’s policy has clearly failed and lead to an outcome that is worse from their perspective that the problem they were trying to solve. It was clearly driven by Green Labor’s anti-business ideology, but facts or logic.

    But, does anyone seriously believe that Abbott and Dutton will have the balls to scrap it? Are they prepared to stare down the public health bullies and stand up for Australia’s most persecuted minority.

  5. Diogenes

    Interestingly this term I seem to be catching more smokers at school.

    In a school of 1100, we normally have about 3-4 “hard core” smokers, and another 5 or 6 who are “opportunistic”(ie will have a smoke if they can get one) – at the moment I seem to be catching a few different ones every day. Over the last 2 weeks I have caught 20 different kids – and that does not count the others that are being caught in the other “favorite” spots. I am smelling cigarette smoke more often on some of the girls in my year 9 & 10 classes (if we don’t actually catch them it doesn’t count as they claim 2nd hand smoke).

    This suggest 2 things – 1) the policy is not working – 2) somebody is breaking the law.

  6. Tom

    Under the law of unintended consequences, which the left invented and rules with an iron fist, the effect on children of PP is the mirror opposite of what was intended, Diogenes. It’s so forbidden, it’s cool. I’ve heard other parents testify here about how PP has revitalised the market for cool cigarette cases, especially among teens. And, of course, having had its intellectual property banned, the industry, as Henry observes, has been forced into price competition, which makes smoking especially attractive to -money-poor school-age teens.

    Progressivism is worse that naïve idealism and/or refusal to acknowledge reality. It is actually a dangerous mental illness. I do not say that flippantly. And the more progressives unsuccessfully try to commandeer the culture of the masses, the more dangerous and out of control is the mental illness of the progressive elite, including all their useful idiots in the media like Koukoulas.

  7. Infidel Tiger

    With all the articles about pp in cat, you would think it to be the number 1 social issue…

    Smoking legislation is a bellwether.

    These nanny state arseholes are going to have the whole country swathed in olive green if we don’t stand up to them.

  8. Rabz

    This suggest 2 things – 1) the policy is not working – 2) somebody is breaking the law.

    If you’re talking young people, the more you try and drive smoking underground, the more cachet it will have.

    Stupid nanny state arseholes indeed.

  9. 1234

    Still waiting for The Australian or the industry to release their report. Until then I don’t believe a word of it

  10. CameronH

    The other thing that is becoming popular is cigarette cases. Having a fancy cigarette case with a custom lighter is getting to be cool. Nothing expresses the coolness of youth like accessories.

  11. J

    The man’s a second rate economist yet he has an ego second only to Kevin Rudd. Take this post

    I have spoken to the ABS on the issue of the consumption of tobacco and all of my work on this issue is correct, accurate and spot on. Whilst this was never in doubt, I feel the need to take issue with the erroneous material that continues to appear in The Australian.

    His website is narcissism personified.

  12. .

    The Kouk’s given up doing any analysis. He’s a complete media tart.

  13. Tel

    Well decimal, it worked for Piketty.

  14. entropy

    #1354631, posted on June 21, 2014 at 8:09 am
    With all the articles about pp in cat, you would think it to be the number 1 social issue…

    I could not care less about smokers themselves, and I find smoking a turnoff.
    But meddlers’ meddling must be stopped. They are as addicted to meddling as surely as a grey gasper’s urgent love for the next death stick. Let the meddlers get away with this putrid policy and one day they will turn their meddling ways to something I personally find important.
    So, for the time being there just can’t be enough criticism of the Plain Packaging Policy.

  15. Dr.Sir Fred Lenin

    Greeks are really good at economics , look at the thriving economy there,its in the blood you know.we must find the Greek connections in the alp/ greens muppets,the way they think it must be there.

  16. Clam Chowdah

    The Cat’s number one racist pipes up. Fascinating, as usual.

  17. Joe Goodacre


    Treasury has released actual number of cigarettes sold in 2013 – it was down on a per capita basis by about 5% from 2012.

    The theory was sound (that plain packaging would encourage consumption by replacing expensive brands with low cost alternatives) but the data appears to throw a curveball against that conclusion.

  18. Joe Goodacre

    Correction – Treasury’s data relates to clearances for the calculation of excise and customs duty, not sales. Again another indirect measure of sales, but not a direct measure.

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