How is that world’s best practice plain packaging policy working?

The number of smokers in Australia has increased for the first time since anti-smoking campaigns ramped up a generation ago, casting doubt on the effectiveness of further taxes on cigarettes.

An unexpected standstill in the national smoking rate since 2013, combined with rapid population growth, has pushed up the number of regular smokers by more than 21,000 to 2.4 million according to Colin Mendelsohn, an expert in public health at the University of New South Wales, who says Australia’s “punitive and coercive” policies to curb smoking have “run out of steam”.

“For the first time ever, there has been no statistically significant reduction in the smoking rate, and an increase in the number of smokers in Australia,” he told The Australian, noting the nation’s smoking rate was now higher than in the US for the first time in a decade. “This is despite plain packaging and the most expensive cigarette prices in the world.”

Why didn’t anyone predict this?

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17 Responses to How is that world’s best practice plain packaging policy working?

  1. Tintarella di Luna

    Good morning Professor, I saw this first thing this morning and you were on my mind. Thanks for this post

  2. incoherent rambler

    I would smoke less, if I did not have to worry about the taxes and the taxes and the taxes …

  3. Senile Old Guy

    I am not, never have been, and never will be, a smoker (unsurprising for an asthmatic) but the plain packaging laws were always an abomination. If it is legal*, then it is legal: end of story.

    * Various people would like to make smoking illegal but governments get too much money from the taxes to even consider this.

  4. Bruce of Newcastle

    the most expensive cigarette prices in the world

    Only for those people smoking legal cigarettes.

    There’s plenty of evidence showing a massive rise in smuggling of tobacco. As people can no longer afford to buy legit cigarettes they are enticed to buy illegally. The people selling smuggled cigarettes almost certainly would be selling other stuff: pot, ice etc. So it seems logical that once inhibition goes out the window that smokers driven to the black economy would be more prone to try that other stuff.

    I wonder if there’s been any studies of this? Or any studies of the effect of drug addiction linked to initiation through tobacco purchasing behaviour. Or the costs to the medical system of drug addiction increases due to such an increased failure of the rule of law?

  5. The Deplorable Barking Toad

    The Ibrahim clan love Nicola

  6. John Bayley

    This – entirely predictable – outcome of driving smokers to the black market, with all the attendant problems that encompasses, is basically another repeat of the broader “war on drugs”.

    It’s about equally successful and about equally as smart.

    Which of course means that the policy makers will double down on what hasn’t worked so far.

  7. H B Bear

    I’m not surprised. Gotta do something to pass the time while you are stuck in traffic surrounded by people propping up the property ponzi scheme.

  8. Dr Fred Lenin

    There is constant friction in jails and mental institutions over this no smoking ban . I believe some mental institutions are allowing one smoke per hour in a designated area . This has eeduced assaults on staff considerably . I reccomend the eager beavers of socialist engineering be compelled to spen one year working in a jail or mental institution , I am positive their ardour for ordering people about would be much changed ,nothing like a few punches in the face to alter PC views and re introducing Reality .

  9. Another old bloke

    There’s plenty of evidence showing a massive rise in smuggling of tobacco. As people can no longer afford to buy legit cigarettes they are enticed to buy illegally.

    Yes, and the idiots in politics and the bureaucracies, at federal and state levels, were told that there would be increases in the use of counterfeit and smuggled tobacco and ‘chop chop’. They have no excuses – except for the revenue.

    And, of course, they disregarded the consequences:
    https://academic.oup.com/ntr/article-abstract/11/8/996/1018780

    It’s the old “somebody should do something” response.

  10. thefrolickingmole

    Senile Old Guy pretty well sums up my feelings on the matter.

    Moral perverts wanting to control others to fill whatever gaping void infests their own lives.

  11. Jessie

    The predictors:
    ? Any tangential changes in
    1. Grants/funding to anti-smoking health promoting programs and posters/stickers etc etc
    2. Share prices in pharmaceuticals for tobacco-related diseases
    3. Share prices in surgical costs and surgical implants (angio etc) specified as ‘tobacco-related’
    4. The number of oxygen cylinders sold for chronic airways/emphysema patients? and corresponding OHS incidents 🙂

    5. Downslide in purchases and/or government subsidisation of alternate smoking paraphernalia (e-ciggies, nicotine patches/chewing gum etc) AND health promoting grants/wages/research ….

  12. Frigging wankers.
    First, there is no frigging way these azzholes could know about such a small increase. 21 thou out of 2.4 mill is
    less than one percentage point. The margin of error would be larger than that.
    Second, I heard these wankers on radio this morning, they were calling for an immediate and substantial injection of FUNDS FROM GOVT to curb this drastic increase (sarc). Rent seeking pricks.

    Typical of these azzholes, they demand bucketloads of our money to stick their noses into our business, when the outcome doesn’t match their promises, they demand more money. EFFOFF

  13. @SeditionaryI

    Doesn’t have anything to do with an ever increasing intake of Chinese, who coincidentally enjoy smoking?

  14. MsDolittle

    As people can no longer afford to buy legit cigarettes they are enticed to buy illegally.

    Others simply enjoy ripping nanny.

  15. Helen

    The AIHW survey shows that that has been no significant reduction in smoking, alcohol, or illicit drug use between 2013-2016, after continuing downward trends in all of these between 2010 -2013, and earlier. This suggests some general cause unrelated to smoking per se. Something about the 2016 survey? Some broader cultural factor – maybe people have been more stressed?
    On the other hand, there has been one area of significant improvement: the rate of young people smoking has dropped, and the age of first smoking has risen significantly. This suggests two things.
    1. Older smokers find it much harder to quit but young people are finding it easier to avoid starting.
    2. The effect of plain packeting and higher prices will pay off in future reductions as there is less recruitment from younger generations to smoking.
    So why has the absolute number of smokers risen? The summary data don’t allow easy comparison of absolute population increase v number of smokers increase. But we can safely say that the increase in births 2013-2016 is not the cause, and the rate (and number?) of young smokers has dropped, so my guess is that it’s probably due to adult immigrants,within which group there may be a much higher smoking rate anyway. This group also has not yet had so much exposure to the anti-smoking plain packaging campaign here. Would this also explain the standstill in alcohol ans illicit drugs? For these reasons I think it’s too soon to write off plain packaging as ineffective.

  16. It was for times like this that we borrowed the German word ‘schadenfreude’.

    They are such fools, Tobacco Control. So blinded by their own fanatical ideology that they have no idea what the consequences of their incessant meddling will be. And even when their failures stare balefully back at them, they refuse to accept it, and call for more of the same, with, of course, the commensurate funding. (Well, those Range Rovers aren’t cheap to run, you know, and what with the mortgage to pay….)

    Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knew that Plain Packaging was just an empty gesture, designed purely for the benefit of the anti-tobacco groups. Another few years of handsome taxpayer funding for the appearance of being busy on something ‘really important’; another not-to-be-missed opportunity to infantilise and insult smokers; another blow struck against those wicked ‘Big Tobacco’ companies who are enslaving people against their will, and are thus icons of evil to the controllorati.

    “Consequences? What consequences? I see no consequences!”

    “Dismal failure? Of course not, it was a spectacular success! Look, I’ve got some stats here that I cooked earlier, before the programme….”

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