Plain packaging is 3 years old today

So how is the Gillard government’s theft of intellectual property working out as a policy to inhibit smoking?

Not well.

Here is a picture based on data collected by States (or in the case of Victoria on behalf of the State).
PP1

Here is is a picture that highlights something we’ve been on about at the Cat.
PP2

Here is the ABS data on household expenditure:
PP3

So we have State based data, Tax based data (via Treasury), and ABS data ALL showing that plain packaging didn’t work as advertised. That is all government data – not industry data or private sector estimates of smuggling etc. The Australian governments (Federal and State) own data.

By contrast the Nanny state has produced evidence that people don’t like the packaging. Well, yes. Given that the packaging was deliberately engineered to be unattractive that is hardly surprising.

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36 Responses to Plain packaging is 3 years old today

  1. Let me guess, this is another IPE study that is funded by Philip Morris, like the last flawed and discredited study.

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    It is true there has been a lot of controversy around the Kaul and Wolf paper, but it is far from clear that it is discredited.

    In the meantime, please comment – if you must comment at all – on the actual data produced by the various Australian governments or their agencies that demonstrate the failure of plain packaging.

  3. steve

    it is amazing that after three years the name Nicola Roxon still sends shivers down my spine

  4. The point made about the previous paper also applies to this one, Sinc: plain packaging as policy targets takeup by those who haven’t started smoking, not those who are already smoking. You are measuring the wrong thing.

  5. Sinclair Davidson

    plain packaging as policy targets takeup by those who haven’t started smoking, not those who are already smoking.

    I suspect that’s what they’re saying now. But I don’t know that this is correct. The published studies suggesting that plain packaging worked report calls to Quit lines and the the tracking study targeted smokers – not potential smokers, but people actually smoking.

  6. Diogenes

    plain packaging as policy targets takeup by those who haven’t started smoking, not those who are already smoking.

    Well thats not working either. Whilst only anecdotal, the number of referrals @ work of students we catch has doubled this year. Talking with other teachers at a course yesterday( had to find the leper colony on campus) they are seeing the same.

  7. Rabz

    Gee, I wonder how much consumption of chop-chop has increased over that time?

  8. Hydra

    Anyone who wants to see if plain packaging has worked head to Geelong on a Saturday night, everyone under the age of 30 has a cigarette in hand.

    It is an utter failure. No one gives a rats arse. And why would they? No one smokes for the colour of the pack.

    Once again the left attempts to force its own way of thinking on others without realising not everyone thinks that way.

  9. Some History

    Sinc, you’re going to have to acknowledge that “research” by Tobacco Controllers (prohibitionists) is quasi-angelic…… beyond corruption [giggle]

    Monty links to a “study” where at least 2 of the authors (Diethelm & McKee) are high-profile prohibition activists whose grasp of basic arithmetic, let alone anything more, is in question. What we end up getting from the prohibitionists is if research is conducted by [“evil”] Big Tobacco, it is necessarily corrupt: The same applies to any research that arrives at conclusions that don’t support the prohibition agenda. Whereas research conducted by prohibitionists evaluating their prohibitionist activity is necessarily the font of impartiality and probity, and any research that supports the prohibition agenda is always correct.

    The more harebrained the prohibitionist idea, the harder it is to tie down an evaluation amongst the hysterical din. Every prohibitionist idea is hailed by the prohibitionists as the greatest step forward in Public Health. And “plain packaging” is no exception. PP was going to stop smoking uptake and “help” existing smokers quit. So you try evaluating at least some of the claims. No matter what you evaluate, particularly if it doesn’t fit the agenda, the prohibitionists will claim that that wasn’t the aim of the policy. Ask them again what is the aim of the policy and the response will be that it’s not what you’re evaluating.

    While the prohibitionists claim that any tobacco-funded research is “compromised”, their research never is. Prohibitionists don’t comprehend that prohibition is a vested interest; they are ideologically compromised. That’s a serious competing interest. And many of the activists are funded by Big Pharma that also has a vested interest in prohibition, peddling its snake oil “cures” – nicotine replacement products. But go check prohibitionists’ research. Under the section “competing interests” the typical reply is “none”.

  10. Dr Faustus

    plain packaging as policy targets takeup by those who haven’t started smoking, not those who are already smoking.

    Not what Roxon thought at the time.

    The rationale for plain packaging
    This Bill will prevent tobacco advertising and promotion on tobacco products and
    tobacco product packaging in order to:
    · reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products to consumers,
    particularly young people;
    · increase the noticeability and effectiveness of mandated health warnings;
    · reduce the ability of the tobacco product and its packaging to mislead
    consumers about the harms of smoking; and
    · through the achievement of these aims in the long term, as part of a
    comprehensive suite of tobacco control measures, contribute to efforts to
    reduce smoking rates.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    Yesterday:

    Melbourne tobacconist watched live CCTV as shop ram-raided in 13th robbery in five years

    A Melbourne tobacconist watched a live CCTV feed as his store was ram-raided and ransacked of $50,000 worth of cigarettes – the 13th robbery in the past five years. … A Melbourne tobacconist watched a live CCTV feed as his store was ram-raided and ransacked of $50,000 worth of cigarettes – the 13th robbery in the past five years. … Police arrived while the thieves were still inside, but they managed to escape. Their Nissan Navara was last seen in Roxburgh Park, police said.

    Dan the CFMEU man’s pursuit law wins crooks another escape.

    According to the evening news report (see 1:30) the cops blame it on the increase in the price of cigarettes and the massive increase in black market. Its pretty clear these guys are going to sell those stolen cigs through it.

    The stats are a load of rubbish when so much is happening beneath the surface.

  12. Le Chiffre

    You should plot the use of ice compared to the ever increasing cost of smoking.
    How much harm has the increased taxation of smoking really caused?

  13. Some History

    Prohibitionists have no “off” switch. They will push stupidity as far as society allows. Where they are given a red-carpet ride by the State, as is currently the case, the claims become progressively more absurd and hysterical, and the demands more draconian and inhumane. Just one of the prohibitionists’ delusions is that they have the moral high ground. This supposedly justifies any of their harebrained ideas. Anything to get smokers to quit and no-one else start smoking.

    Hot on the heels of PP, the prohibitionists are dreaming up the next harebrained idea. They’re not waiting for “evaluation” of PP. As far as they’re [incoherently] concerned, they’re justified in any action whether it “works” or not. Now they’re considering tampering with the appearance of individual cigarettes:
    http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/against-smokers.html

  14. Some History

    You should plot the use of ice compared to the ever increasing cost of smoking.
    How much harm has the increased taxation of smoking really caused?

    With a few decades of obscene amounts of funding and unquestioned access to the media, the antismoking buffoons have done a wonderful job. They’ve gotten more children off cigarettes and onto [fully illegal] marijuana. Just another “great accomplishment” by Tobacco Control. And The Children™ aren’t being attracted to the weed through attractive packaging and prime-time advertising. The weed usually comes in a ball of crumpled cling wrap.

    CDC: More US teens smoke marijuana than cigarettes
    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/08/cdc-more-us-teens-smoke-marijuana-than-cigarettes/print

    More recently from Washington State: “Fewer students are smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, according to a recent survey of kids in our state. At the same time, a large number of students seriously considered suicide in the past year. The number of secondary school students who believe using marijuana is risky dropped to the lowest level since the state started collecting data.”
    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fewer-teens-use-tobacco-and-alcohol-many-need-support-for-depressive-feelings-198123281.html

    Given the inflammatory antismoking propaganda of the last few decades, it wouldn’t be surprising if teens believed that a cocktail of kerosene and broken glass, spiced with hemlock is safer than cigarettes.

    This is all a “success” to tobacco prohibitionists because marijuana (or any other drugs) isn’t their problem.

  15. vr

    Right on cue Sinc, Bloomberg has an editorial that argues for raising the smoking age.

  16. .

    Given the inflammatory antismoking propaganda of the last few decades, it wouldn’t be surprising if teens believed that a cocktail of kerosene and broken glass, spiced with hemlock is safer than cigarettes.

    The tobacco control nutters should be given this on their last day on earth. For the crime of asebia (misleading the youth and creating new gods).

  17. .

    m0nty
    #1873276, posted on December 1, 2015 at 7:57 am
    Let me guess, this is another IPE study that is funded by Philip Morris, like the last flawed and discredited study.

    Gullible old babbler monty thinks laundering money through the tax office washes it of all sin, original or not.

  18. candy

    I agree with MOnty it’s about limiting the number of kids taking up smoking.

    Also the rise in excise planned by Labor – perhaps it’s a bit much – but I think Bill Shorten firmly committed to stopping smoking in the young and the dreadful consequences. One of the few politicians to really care in that respect.

  19. J-man

    Sinc, correct start date of plain packaging policy is 1 October 2012. Wholesale distribution of proprietary packaging was legally restricted after this date. This is not expected to change the analysis.

  20. Some History

    While it despises all else about the West, the bloodthirsty murderers of ISIS have adopted the West’s antismoking, something more with which to bludgeon their captives, instituting a complete (everywhere) ban on smoking with brutal fervor ….. for the “good” (at gunpoint) of their captives, of course…. for a “healthy” society:
    http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/13/jihadi-militants-ban-smoking-and-guns-in-conquered-territories/#ixzz34cdxaMGD
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/isis-thugs-viciously-beat-cowering-5722162

    The bonfire disposal of cigarettes is a nice tyrannical touch. And it’s not an isolated incident. There are similar bans and bonfires (and guns) in Africa.

    Antismoking is “anti”; it’s an extreme, prohibitionist view. It’s always a symptom of a dictatorial mindset. The only issue then is the magnitude of coercive measures to conformity. With ISIS, a brutal, savage bunch, people are ordered not to smoke under threat of having fingers and ears lopped off, if not worse. In the less brutal West, for example, the punitive measures are more “civilized”, consisting of inflammatory propaganda concerning the “risks” of smoking and secondary smoke to nonsmokers, pitting a majority against a minority, ostracizing/de-normalizing smoking/smokers from normal, mainstream society, smoking bans galore – indoors and out, the depiction of smokers as a “leper” class that contaminate the “clean”, and fleecing smokers through baseless, ever-increasing extortionate taxes.

  21. Some History

    Most recently, ISIS has even borrowed one of Britain’s NHS ads in its antismoking ventures:
    http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/11/29/isis-hijacks-nhs-ad-discourage-people-smoking

    Just some scrutiny of prohibitionism reveals contradictions galore. But in the case of ISIS the contradictions are eye watering. The antismoking meme used by ISIS is that smoking is “slow suicide”. Engage in the “slow suicide” (involving old age) and ISIS will mutilate young adults in the here and now. This is coming from butchers of men that are themselves suicidal in an accurate sense of the term through their abominable “world conquest” conduct. They could get blown up at any time in their physical prime by opposing military forces. Then there’s a subset of these nut cases that do actual suicide by blowing themselves up with bomb vests and belts, taking as many with them as possible. Maybe that’s what ISIS finds repugnant with smoking….. that the “suicide” is too slow.

  22. Some History

    One of the few politicians [Shorten] to really care in that respect.

    Interviewer: So the intent of this massive tax on top of an earlier massive tax is to help smokers quit?
    Shorty: That’s right.

    Interviewer: You’d be happy if every smoker quit smoking?
    Shorty: That’s right.

    Interviewer: But your forecasts are projecting an additional $4 billion to the $10 billion that excise already rakes in?
    Shorty: That’s right.

    Interviewer: So you need this $14 billion to plug budgetary black holes and fund projects like Gonski reforms?
    Shorty: That’s right.

    Interviewer: If smokers all quit, you’d need to find $14 billion per year from another source? Where would that be exactly?
    Shorty: That’s right.

    Interviewer: So you want smokers to quit and keep smoking????
    Shorty: That’s right.

    Interviewer: Well, Mr. Shorten, which is it?
    Shorty: ………………………

    Interviewer: Are you OK, Mr. Shorten? Your eyes are glazed over.
    Shorty: ……………….That’s right………

  23. Some History

    The insight that’s been lost over the last 3 decades is the ability to recognize moralizing zealotry, and to recognize it as mental dysfunction. And the solution is regaining the insight to recognizing moralizing zealotry and its antics.

    Consider the following:
    10 Outrageous Claims Made By The Temperance Movement
    Ingredients Included Hemlock And Cockroaches
    Drunk People Spontaneously Combust
    Alcohol Causes Crime Against White People
    Alcohol Is Made From Excrement
    Drinking Can Disfigure Your Grandchildren
    Fat Organs
    You’ll Likely Die Of Dropsy
    Alcohol Is A “Colorless, Liquid Poison”
    You’ll Become A Heartless Murderer

    “All of these things were taught in schools as scientific fact. Educators like Mary Hunt crusaded to get temperance views and “science” into the curricula of the public schools—and in many cases, they succeeded. Hunt was the driving force behind the Scientific Temperance Instruction Movement, and although they met resistance at first, the WTCU made sure that their members and supporters were in key roles within the education system.”
    http://listverse.com/2014/01/05/10-outrageous-claims-made-by-the-temperance-movement/

    There was nothing “scientific” about the Scientific Temperance Department. And Temperance groups were as rabidly anti-tobacco, making all manner of baseless claims about the deleterious effects of tobacco use. Then there was the far more influential Eugenics Movement that was also rabidly anti-tobacco/alcohol. Concerning baseless claims about tobacco and alcohol, the Temperance and Eugenics Movements sang from the same hymn sheet. It must be understood that these baseless, highly inflammatory claims weren’t being made by Joe Blow off the street. They were being made by well respected folk in medical and religious circles. This tells us much about how moralizing zealots operate. They believe they have a definitive world view that all must abide by. So, when all of the populace does not do as told, where some dare defy the zealots’ edicts, the zealots become more hysterical in their claims attempting to “convert” the non-conformers. The only thing important to moralizing zealots is getting people to do as they’re told. The rhetoric quickly degenerates into terrorizing – through baseless, highly-inflammatory claims – the populace into conformity.

    And there’s a theme in the inflammatory propaganda. Zealots will cast doubt on the integrity of ingredients of a target with a view to evoking revulsion and outrage, e.g., alcohol is made from excrement. They will contrive an ever-growing list of diseases and character failure that will afflict the partaker. And for the belligerent partaker, the diseases will produce a slow, horrible, agonizing death….. their “just due”. This is the typical repertoire of the moralizing zealot – a constantly agitating fear and hate-mongering. The goal is to condition (brainwash) the populace into conformity through aversion, revulsion, and outrage. The moralizing zealot rationalizes this unethical conduct, if they acknowledge it at all, as for the “greater good”, for a “better”, “healthier” society….. according to them.

    The current antismoking crusade is no different. There are numerous baseless, highly inflammatory claims masqueraded as “science”.

  24. Sinclair Davidson

    Sinc, correct start date of plain packaging policy is 1 October 2012.

    Non-plain packaged tobacco was available until December 1. This is a regulation aimed at consumption so it is the December date that is appropriate for the analysis. Mind you Treasury and the health department think the policy began in January and the pro-PP paper that came out last week thinks it was in November.

  25. Some History

    How do we get (force) people to quit smoking and no-one else taking up the habit. That’s the prohibitionist position.

    Pretty well all of the political class of whatever persuasion parrots the slogan. All in Public Health parrot the slogan. It’s a parrot choir. It’s not new.

    Consider:
    “That the use of Tobacco shortens human life from Five to Twenty years, decreases manly vigor in the same ratio, causes a majority of the sudden deaths attributed to heart disease, and renders the subject more susceptible and less able to withstand any disease, is the opinion of our most eminent physicians. How shall we rid ourselves of this accursed habit, and prevent the uninitiated from falling into it? …..”

    There’s the standard prohibitionist slogan – “How shall we rid ourselves of this accursed habit, and prevent the uninitiated from falling into it?”

    Well, that quote is from Ballou’s Tobacco Disinclinator, a snake oil “cure” for smoking, from way back in 1867. You read that right…..1867.
    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c02485/

    Further, the medical claims made had no scientific basis in 1867. The current snake-oil “cure” is Big Pharma’s next-to-useless “salvation” wares – nicotine replacement products.

    Who decided for prohibition currently? Up to the 1980s the prohibitionists couldn’t get a look in. There were few interested in prohibition. The prohibitionists decided to go the route of manufacturing secondary smoke into a “danger” requiring protective laws. They were adamant that they were not doing prohibition, just trying to protect nonsmokers from ambient tobacco smoke. Somewhere in the 1990s the prohibitionists managed to weasel prohibition as the goal, fully supported by the State. Many are not aware that they have been manipulated into an extreme position (prohibition) that only a few decades ago was viewed as repugnant.

  26. J-man

    Clearances, which is what Treasury report, would more closely align with the 1 October date as no proprietary packaged products would have been cleared after the 1 October date.

  27. Some History

    Imagine diggers, many of whom were smokers, returning from WWII, having put their lives on the line to protect their freedom from an oppressive State, fast-forwarded 60 years, confronted by a current Public Health “advocate”.

    Public Health advocate: Welcome home, guys. Now look, we don’t want you smoking anymore. If you don’t quit there’ll be a variety of punitive measures directed at you. We really don’t want you consuming alcohol either. If you must drink, no more than a glass of beer a day. We’re just working on what we think you should and shouldn’t be eating. I’ll get back to you on that. And we want you to at least do a half hour of calisthenics a day. We’ll provide some incentive for that.

    The diggers would have looked at each other, back at the advocate, and then tossed him into the nearest open water supply. Yet here we are. Over the last few decades critical insight has been lost; it’s gone. Can we get it back?

  28. Sinclair Davidson

    as no proprietary packaged products would have been cleared after the 1 October date.

    Quite possibly – but we know that non-complaint clearances were refunded in 2013.

  29. C.L.

    Alcohol Is Made From Excrement

    Some is. Victoria Bitter, for example.

  30. If only it WERE plain packaging.

    When I go to buy my cigarettes, I get given a packet with a picture of a gangrenous foot on it.

    When I was in the UK in September, they still had pretty colours on the boxes of the identical brand of cigarettes. And no gangrenous feet.

  31. stevem

    By any measure this was one of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments most successful policies.

    Nanny state has produced evidence that people don’t like the packaging. Well, yes. Given that the packaging was deliberately engineered to be unattractive that is hardly surprising.

    It may not have achieved a meaningful result, but it managed to reach one of its goals – a far better result than most policies.

  32. C.L.

    By any measure this was one of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments most successful policies.

    Agreed.

  33. JC

    Interesting chart, sinc. So smoking rates actually increased after plain packaging was introduced. We can also be reasonably assured that black market sales increased when taxes were hiked.

    Great work, Fatty Roxon.

    All this because Fatty’s dad died from lung cancer and she had a vendetta against the cig companies.

  34. .

    Alcohol Is Made From Excrement

    No, that’s Kopi Luwak!

  35. J-man

    Quite possibly – but we know that non-complaint clearances were refunded in 2013.

    Yes, but the goes to the quality and suitability of the data to be analysed. It does not change the fact that, for clearances, the appropriate start date for analysis is 1 October.

  36. Some is. Victoria Bitter, for example.

    At last, CL. Something on which we can agree.

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