Health Department now refusing to provide accurate information on Plain Packaging

From the Hansard:

Senator LEYONHJELM: I think ‘caution’ is the appropriate word. It is a short period of time, I quite agree, except that some amazing conclusions are being drawn from what seems to be a very flimsy statistical base. Speaking of short terms and flimsy statistics, today I received a reply to a question on notice from Treasury which advised that in period of the 12 months ended November 2013 and the 12 months ended 30 November 2012 there was a 0.8 per cent decline in tobacco clearances, excluding tobacco refund scheme refunds. This is 0.8 per cent in the period of 12 months immediately before plain packaging and 12 months immediately post plain packaging. Your website refers to this as 3.4 per cent. There is an extra month included in your calculation of 2012 and an extra month in your calculation of 2013, the difference being that plain packaging started in that extra month in 2012 and, in 2013, there was an excise increase. So, comparing like with like, and Treasury has confirmed this, the accurate figure of pre and post tobacco clearances was a reduction of 0.8 per cent. Have you looked at that? Are you aware of that calculation? I understand Treasury consulted you in preparing that answer for us.

Ms Davies: Yes. The information on our website, which is quite old now, was in direct response to an article that appeared in The Australian some time ago which quoted a particular figure for the 2012 calendar year. We, at the time, engaged with Treasury and they provided the 3.4 per cent figure as the calendar year response. So that information is directly referable and responsive to an article that was in The Australian some time ago. But the information can vary, depending on what point in time you choose. For example, October was the date when plain packaging was commenced, and it only became fully effective in December 2012.

Senator LEYONHJELM: Do you intend to modify your website to say that, comparing like with like, the reduction was 0.8 per cent? It gives the impression that it had an immediate, substantial impact on clearance rates.

Ms Davies: We have no intention of suggesting that clearance rates are a direct measure of tobacco plain packaging effects. In fact, they are not designed to measure the effects of plain packaging or, indeed, any particular tobacco control measure. They are one indication amongst many of whether plain packaging is working, including the ABS household expenditure data, which has, between September 2012 and September 2013, dropped by a total of 20 per cent. The prevalence data suggests that prevalence has had the most substantial drop in 20 years since plain packaging, together with the behavioural studies that you mentioned earlier in the BMJ. We look at the totality of the evidence, but certainly with the clearance data we would say that since 2012 there has been an 11 per cent drop in total. It is consistent with plain packaging working, but we do not hold out the clearance data as a measure of plain packaging working or, indeed, any other tobacco control measure. It is not designed to measure tobacco control.

Two very interesting things there:

  1. We have no intention of suggesting that clearance rates are a direct measure of tobacco plain packaging effects.
  2. … the ABS household expenditure data, which has, between September 2012 and September 2013, dropped by a total of 20 per cent.

No – I don’t think so. This is what the Health Department say at their (quite old) website:

Treasury has advised that tobacco clearances (including excise and customs duty) fell by 3.4% in 2013 relative to 2012 and fell a further 7.9% in 2014. Tobacco clearances have fallen a total of 11.0% since 2012 when tobacco plain packaging was introduced.

So I simply do not believe “We have no intention of suggesting that clearance rates are a direct measure of tobacco plain packaging effects.” They had every such intention. The second point is even easier to deal with – according to the ABS Household Expenditure data on Cigarettes and Tobacco (seasonally adjusted) the September 2012 value was 4266 and the September 2013 value was 4193. Those figures are in $ millions. Now I calculate about a 2% difference, not 20%. So the Health Department is out in its calculation by a factor of 10.

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24 Responses to Health Department now refusing to provide accurate information on Plain Packaging

  1. Empire

    The lying is becoming more brazen.

    We’ve seen it with the ABC re Nauru in the last week. We’ve seen it with Mullah Laundry this week re TROP.

    This is not a bad thing. The ammo they provide is useful. I actually have rusted-ons now questioning the narrative.

    The facade is collapsing.

  2. Some History

    Deception and the constant shifting of goalposts have been going on for years. And the ever-increasing extortionate taxes on tobacco are already in the realm of insanity. With every asinine step in the State-sponsored “prohibition” crusade are the spin merchants of the bureaucracy hard at work manufacturing “success”. The useful-idiot politicians, regardless of political party, just parrot whatever they’re fed by the bureaucrats. The pay-off for them is ultimately the super-easy revenue from tobacco taxes.

    Up until very recently there hasn’t been any scrutiny of the shenanigans. Thanks to you, Sinc, and DL asking questions in the parliament, the con artists of government at least are put on notice that some of their activity is being scrutinized. At the moment their response is just a masquerading waffle-fest….. just more of the same. But we, for those looking, can tell there’s a grand con job in motion.

    Keep up the pressure, guys.

  3. Old School Conservative

    Surely this fudge factor is deserving of MSM headlines.

  4. H B Bear

    Keep bellting the pricks.

  5. Anto

    Entirely reminiscent of Carrie Nation and her fellow crones arguing that increasing taxes, restrictions and eventual prohibition of alcohol would improve society and the people.

    In the end, she and her foolish adherents simply criminalised large portions of the population and enriched the criminals who supplied the liquor and speakeasies.

    Many stupid, bossy people are very noisy (eg. Simon Chapman), but rarely are the right. If the anti-smokers hadn’t gained ascendency, there is no way that climate change nut-cases could have so overwhelmed the asylum. It takes a certain amount of unreality in society (group insanity) for stupid causes to be accepted.

    Banning smoking was just a splinter in the toe, compared with the fealty shown to those Islamic savages by the so-called “intellectual”classes. The irony of intellectuals feting a completely anti-intellectual, medieval cult would be highly amusing, were it not so serious. A worryingly common situation where the loony left is concerned .

    Even the neo-prohibition fascists are starting gain a bit of a foothold with the decimation of Sydney’s once vibrant nightlife.

  6. Some History

    Monash University’s student association claims campus smoking ban is putting
    students at risk

    Monash Student Association president Abby Stapleton said getting rid of the campuses’ designated smoking areas was “not a good idea at all” and forced
    students out onto roads to get their nicotine fix.
    Ms Stapleton said many students also studied into the night, and was concerned for female students who had to leave campus to smoke in the dark.
    “Students are going to smoke anyway,” Ms Stapleton said.Monash University president and vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner AO said the move to a smoke-free environment was a natural progression for the university.
    “As a university, we are in a unique position to take a proactive stand on this important health issue. Going smoke free will help improve health outcomes for staff and students by providing a healthier work and learning environment,” Professor Gardner said. “This is an important step to encourage staff and students to take action against the harmful effects of smoking, while also reducing the impact of second-hand smoke on campus.”

    Antismokers (prohibitionists) are dangerous. There is no coherent basis for outdoor smoking bans. There is no danger to nonsmokers from quickly diluting wisps of smoke outdoors. Anyone claiming “danger” is straight out lying. What “impact” of secondhand smoke outdoors is Gardner referring to? Outdoor bans are just the latest “salami slice” towards prohibition. These bans force people to walk considerable distances to get to side streets, in any weather and day/night, if they want a cigarette. It places particularly young women at risk of attack. And what do the prohibitionists make of it? They couldn’t care less. All that matters to prohibitionists is prohibition.

    This from just a few weeks ago:

    It concerns a campus-wide smoking ban in Florida. I think this university already has indoor bans and is now proposing adding on outdoor bans.

    “We’ve had complaints about second-hand smoke, some faculty have asthma, and are affected. And there’s third-hand smoke from that dropped butt. I’m still getting that smoke.

    Administrators are making up all sorts of inflammatory nonsense to rationalize baseless outdoor bans. Not only are administrators peddling baseless secondhand smoke “danger” but the incredibly deluded are now propagating thirdhand smoke “danger” from dropped butts – outdoors….. they’re “still getting that smoke”. And this coming from a senior university administrator. Unfortunately, no-one in the mainstream is questioning this barrage of lies.

  7. Some History

    Entirely reminiscent of Carrie Nation and her fellow crones arguing that increasing taxes, restrictions and eventual prohibition of alcohol would improve society and the people.

    The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, that included Carrie Nation and Lucy Page Gaston, and the [physician-led] eugenicists were anti-alcohol/tobacco. Having succeeded with Prohibition, the moralizing nut cases were hopeful of getting tobacco-use prohibited too.

    Tobacco earned Nation’s wrath almost as much as alcohol. It was not unusual for her to approach a man on the street, pull a cigar out of his mouth, throw it down, and stomp on it.
    “[It is] the rudest thing . . . a man throwing his smoke into the face of women and
    children as they pass up and down the street. Have you a right to throw in my mouth
    what you puff out of yours? That foul smoke and breath! And you would like to be called
    a gentleman.”

    –The Smasher’s Mail, March 23, 1901

    CARRIE NATION HISSED.; She Called President Roosevelt a “Cigarette Fiend” — Rockaway Beach Sunday Theatre Crowd Resented It.
    Carrie Nation caused an outburst of indignation in Morrison’s Theatre, in Rockaway Beach, last night, which for a moment threatened to cause trouble. The audience had allowed her to proceed with a ten-minute tirade against drinking and smoking until she assailed President Roosevelt by name, and the moment she did her sentence was drowned by hisses and these were followed by cries of “Throw her out!” and “Kick her out!”

  8. Some History


    MAY START TOBACCO CRUSADE.; W.C.T.U. Considers an Anti-Smoking Amendment to the Liquor Pledge.

    “War Is Declared On ‘Demon’ Tobacco: National Crusade Planned”
    THE guns of reform that leveled the wet ramparts of the country are soon to be trained upon tobacco. After the enactment of the prohibition amendment it was predicted that an anti-tobacco offensive would come next.

  9. Some History

    It was actually the [physician-led] eugenicists in America that had the major influence over the legislature. Eugenics, anti-tobacco/alcohol in stance, was popularized in America from the late-1800s. The Germans and Hitler were students of American eugenics. Under the Nazis, anti-tobacco was pushed further than in America.

    Karl Astel, the SS officer and physician who founded the institute [Institute for Tobacco
    Hazards research], denounced the health and financial costs of smoking, but also the ‘ethic of apathy’ fostered by the habit.” (Proctor, 1997, p.463)

    Furthermore, the director of Dortmund’s Institute for Labor Physiology (a Prof. Graf) argued that tobacco should be entirely banned at the workplace, due to the dangers of ‘passive smoking’….Jena by this time was a center of antitobacco activism. Karl Astel, director of the new institute, was also president of Thuringia’s Office of Racial Affairs, and rector – since the summer of 1939 – of the University of Jena. Astel was not just a notorious anti-Semite and racial hygienist (he had joined the Nazi party and the SS in July 1930), he was also a militant antismoker and teetotaler who once characterized opposition to smoking as a ‘national socialist duty’. On May Day of 1940 he banned smoking in all buildings and classrooms of the University of Jena; he soon became known for snatching cigarettes from the mouths of students who dared to violate the ban. One year later, in the Spring of 1941, as head of Thuringia’s public health office, he announced a smoking ban for all state health offices and all German schools. Tobacco abstinence was, as one might imagine, a condition of employment at Astel’s antitobacco institute: the original proposal sent to Hitler – written by Gauleiter Sauckel – noted that this was ‘as important as Aryan ancestry’; freedom from tobacco addiction was said to be necessary to guarantee the ‘independence’ and ‘impartiality’ of the science produced. (Proctor, 1997, p.464)

  10. Some History

    This latest State-sponsored antismoking crusade has created a few generations of neurotic bigots. The more antismokers are appeased, the more absurd and hysterical become their claims. Antismokers, as is typically the case, have turned ambient tobacco smoke into a “magic mist” that can defy the laws of physics and chemistry and is on a par with a bio-weapon like, say, sarin gas – even one whiff…..outdoors.

    The absurdity of antismokers’ claims attracted this blogger’s recent thread:
    The miracle that is Second Hand Smoke

    Think it’s exaggerating? Then have a read of this from just a day ago [truly frightening is that the author of the article is an Age staffer]

    When smoke gets in your eyes, and ears, and carport, and
    bedroom …–20160214-gmtvgw.html

  11. Some History

    The current antismoking crusade has shown up quite a few to be dangerously gullible and seriously stupid. And the most serious offenders are the “educated”. Interspersed with the following asinine, hysterical claims, the author parrots a load of antismoking rhetoric that actually has no relevance to the outdoor setting [not that it makes all that much sense for indoor settings]. At no point does the author ever consider that she might be neurotic, in urgent need of psychotherapy.

    When smoke gets in your eyes, and ears, and carport, and bedroom …

    We’re outside, playing basketball in our tiny backyard. Or it’s table-tennis time. Perhaps we’re sharing a meal on a warm night. Or maybe I’m just hanging out the washing when it happens. From over the fence, the acrid waft of smoke drifts, and that’s it: dinner’s off, the game is over, the washing is abandoned, the kids are packed off inside. My cough begins almost immediately. Shut the windows and bolt the doors.
    We’re feeling the inner-city pressure. Our neighbours smoke. All. The. Time. It’s been four years since we could eat a meal outside. Our children have to stop playing and come in when the neighbours light up, which seems to be every five minutes. If we open the bedroom windows, the smoke drifts straight in and stays.
    Our washing smells of smoke, the side of the house smells like a huge ashtray. The winds from the sea push the smoke straight under our carport, where it hangs, dropping its toxic chemicals over time. I recently found myself muttering “Kill yourselves, but stop killing us!” as I fled indoors….
    So, back to my backyard. The evidence is in. Neighbours, your smoking is harming us! We can no longer spend time in our backyard. My gardening is restricted to quick dashes to the herb box. Our spring and summer dinners outside have been abandoned long ago, hanging out the washing is a risky respiratory business and sitting in the sun has become mostly impossible.
    Until we see legislative changes, all we can ask is: “Please butt out, next door dudes. For your own health and for that of your highly irritated, coughing

  12. johno

    Will the Health Minister, Susan Ley, do anything about this, or has she, like virtually every one of Lord Waffle’s Ministers, been catptured by her department?

  13. John Constantine

    Roundup weedspray is the new tobacco.

    Their left have hollowed themselves out, and it is only the mission that stops their feelings of emptiness from aching so much they can’t bear it.

    Seeing roundup sprayed or seeing a durrie smoked provokes a pavlovian response in a swampy.

    I have seen one throw themselves to the ground, screaming that they could smell the cancer if they just saw a.spray unit on action.

    I have seen studies that show some people with strong hysterical tendencies also have highly sensitive senses of smell.

    Maybe they can detect the smell of a butt outside days later maybe this can trigger a panic attack, maybe the eternal anxiety about cancer causes cancer (like ABC cancer clusters).

    If so, then isn’t the hysteria, anxiety and panic a major public health issue?.

    (Or would this justify everybody being medicated like the swampies medicate themselves?.)

  14. Baldrick

    Activism disguised as health care.

  15. Dr Faustus

    The lying is becoming more brazen.

    It’s rather more significant than a lying liar being sprung. Here we have a Senator, sitting on a parliamentary oversight committee, asking a clear, relevant and specific question of a public servant – and receiving a deliberately untruthful reply.

    Whatever your thoughts on tobacco, the issue itself, or David Leyonhjelm himself, this little exchange showcases casual, cost-free contempt for democratic process. A government agency out of control.

  16. MAGB

    If you think about it, many kids, particularly girls, start smoking because they feel self-conscious and socially awkward just talking and not doing anything else at the same time. They smoke to be included in the group. There is now anecdotal evidence that instead of taking up smoking, they direct their attention to their phones, which keep them occupied and able to interact with a number of people simultaneously. This appears to be a significant factor in the reduction in numbers of young people taking up smoking.

  17. Rabz

    As I noted the other day, none of the “interested” parties will ever admit to being wrong. Those key parties include:

    Anti-smoking zealots

  18. Terry

    So, we’re looking for savings (uh, hm…”spending restraint”) and we have an example of dishonesty and incompetence (dishonest incompetence or incompetent dishonesty?) amongst those that use our tax dollars to provide…well, something (ok, nothing really).

    One would think the solution is obvious, but then we are relying on the same “class” of citizen that created this problem.

    With so much stupid around it is hard to see a way out of this.

  19. Mayan

    After a certain point, taxation becomes de facto prohibition. I wonder what the market share is for black market tobacco.

    Alcohol taxes are also high, and I know of a few people who have their own stills.

  20. .

    It isn’t just smoking. The government still follows Ancel Keys.

    The government should get out of science. It is no damned good.

  21. .

    #1948379, posted on February 17, 2016 at 10:30 am
    After a certain point, taxation becomes de facto prohibition. I wonder what the market share is for black market tobacco.

    Alcohol taxes are also high, and I know of a few people who have their own stills.

    If you think that is bad, look at the medical marijuana legislation.

    Cultivation without a permit has a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 600 penalty units (at lest $102,000).

  22. JB Sydney/Shanghai

    A few months a go my local train station in Sydney had about ten Police raiding the station Tobacconists, seizing the dreaded chop chop, much enjoyed by the smokers who care little for the Nanny State, and the lunatic enthusiasms of prohibitionist zealots. A few meters away, Coles were selling “legal” durries for $25 a pack. I don’t know how much a pack is chop chop, but someone is making a quid, and cutting out the officious Government. Good luck to the entrepreneurs!

  23. Tim Neilson

    Monash University’s student association claims campus smoking ban is putting
    students at risk

    If women who go off campus to smoke get raped or bashed, that will just go into the official government stats as smoking related health problems.

  24. Tim Neilson

    Monash University’s student association claims campus smoking ban is putting
    students at risk

    Our universities have ultra dumbed down degree courses. They are now going for this nanny state totalitarianism, along with enforced politically correct speech codes.
    And now the Termite government is funding a program to force 11 year old kids to role play sexually attracted teens.
    Is there actually any difference at all between an Australian university and an Australian primary school?

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