After the Wakefield survey results turned out to be unconvincing, the Australian government had another problem in demonstrating the efficacy of its plain packaging policy. Many government data sets showed that the prevalence or incidence of smoking had increased after the introduction of plain packaging.
Of course the very best data, the most audited data, would be tax data. Even there the data showed an increase – but the government were able to sow so much and misinformation that this outcome was obscured. We here at the Cat covered the 3.4% lie in great detail.
Here is some of the data and data sets the government had to throw under a bus.*
1. National Drug Strategy Household Survey
2. Cancer Institute New South Wales Tobacco Tracking Survey
3. South Australian Health Omnibus Survey
4. Victorian Smoking and Health Survey
5. Cancer Council Queensland Survey
37. Referring to a news item published in an Australian website, the Dominican Republic noted that while prevalence levels decreased for some subsets of the population, there had been a sharp increase in prevalence among Queenslanders aged between 25 and 34 after the implementation of the TPP measures.
So it turns out that all of those data sets are somehow flawed or contradictory to the Australian government’s preferred data set. No. Not the $3 million tracking study that the government itself commissioned and that too had failed to reveal the efficacy of the policy as the even WTO has now ruled. Not the National Drug Strategy Household Survey either. Nor the State government surveys that track health at great expense to the taxpayer.
The Australian government’s preferred data set is the Roy Morgan Single Source data set. Collected by the private sector. Paid for by the private sector. It isn’t clear whether this data does support the government’s position on plain packaging – the flawed junk science analysis presented to the WTO does support the government’s position but unfortunately the full data set (including post 2015 data) is not available for replication studies and, of course, the original analysis is not peer reviewed.
Now I understand there are lots of people who don’t care about smoking or smokers. That’s fine. The point is that the Australian government has lied to us (perhaps others too) and that is unacceptable. One day they may lie to us about other issues too.
*I haven’t included any of the data sets that simply showed an on-trend decline in smoking.