Smoking Wars again

This morning the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released results for the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

The anti-smoking lobby is crowing that the results support the tobacco plain packaging policy

“This is the biggest drop I’ve ever seen. This is champagne-cork pulling time,” professor Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health said on Thursday.

“It’s almost like the equivalent of developing a very good vaccine against lung cancer. The survey was taken before the December 2013 price rise – the only major factor* that would explain this is the introduction of plain packaging.”

but – as always when dealing with the progressive left – you have to check the data yourself.

Here is the headline result:


The proportion of daily smokers has fallen – smoking in Australia is in long-term decline and has been so since the 1960s. So the fact that the number is down on 2010 is not as interesting as the nanny staters would want us to believe. Look at the proportion of ex-smokers – also declining. In fact the proportion of ex-smokers has fallen from 26.4% ten years ago to 24.0% last year. In other words, the decline in the proportion of smokers in the population is being driven by people who have never smoked not by people quitting smoking.

Population growth in Australia is driven by natural growth and by immigration. To the extent the immigration program selects non-smokers over smokers there will be a downward bias in the proportion of smokers in Australia anyway. At the same time, however, more people are never taking up tobacco consumption anyway – and this has been very clear since 1998, long before the plain packaging policy was ever introduced.

So, bottom line, the data released today is generally silent on the efficacy of plain packaging. Certainly it does not support the notion that plain packaging has led to increased quit rates.

What is problematic for the nanny staters is the increase in tobacco consumption by young women. Despite media reports suggesting that “young people” are smoking less, the data do not support inference when looking at women aged 18 – 29.


See also Christopher Snowdon here.

It is quite astonishing the lengths the nanny-staters are going to claim that plain packaging was successful. Of course, much of it must the loyalty to the Gillard government that introduced the measure, then some of it represents an irrational hatred of big business and personal responsibility.

* This statement is false – there was a 25% increase in tobacco excise in 2010.

Update: Smoking in the US is down despite tobacco being cheap and no plain packaging.


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50 Responses to Smoking Wars again

  1. Infidel Tiger

    Aussie kids have switched from Winfields to Crystal Meth.

    They both keep the weight off, but you don’t need meal breaks on the crystal.


  2. Ms Dolittle

    Plain packaging. Plain stupid, more like. The picture of the woman intended to indicate a stroke – she looks normal to me.

  3. Token

    What is problematic for the nanny staters is the increase in tobacco consumption by young women.

    Nice to see all the work empowering young women regardless of cost of all other demographics is baring fruit.

    Peoples, remember it is their body and you have no right to judge…

    …it was this topic they use that line on, isn’t it?

  4. Percy

    Aussie kids have switched from Winfields to Crystal Meth

    The Winnies are a buck a pop. Meth’s cheap, and far more socially acceptable.

  5. thefrollickingmole

    Its a terrible case of self harm.

    Instead of quietly saying “we did try it, it didnt have a measurable effect, what can we learn from it” they are doubling down of stupid pills and cramming that square peg into that round hole harder.

    Even the coyote in the old Road runner cartoons didnt try the same failed trick twice.

  6. nerblnob

    o the extent the immigration program selects non-smokers over smokers there will be a downward bias in the proportion of smokers in Australia anyway

    There was an article in The Age a while back about the prevalence of smoking in older Vietnamese-Australians. Poor old buggers seemed to enjoy their fags which the article seemed puzzled by. As they and their like die off we should see some more miraculous statistics proving the worth of whatever overbearing nonsense has been foisted on Australians at the time.

  7. Tim Neilson

    If it’s the plain packaging wot dunnit and not the excise rise can the future excise rises now be scrapped? I mean the nanny staters wouldn’t want to confiscate people’s hard earned money totally unnecessarily, would they?

  8. Aristogeiton

    Anyone see the Lateline on e-cigs. Fucking woeful! Chapman was there. And some other professional wowsers. Currently vaping cinnamon roll.

  9. H B Bear

    Looks like someone is asking to be sent to the Naughty Spot.

  10. Aristogeiton

    Whatever do you mean, Bear?

  11. Aristogeiton

    Well Bear, it’s a rare thing that it’s not reasonable to call for me to be sent to the naughty corner 🙂

  12. C.L.

    Nicely done, Sinclair.

    The “findings” were based on figures beginning in 2010; PP was introduced 1 December 2012.

    This is about as clear an example as statistical fraud as can be imagined.

  13. .

    Mike Daube was also on Lateline.

    Professional hucksters and doomsday cultists.

  14. Some History

    Good job, Sinc.

    Even the smoking rates appearing in the “National Drug Strategy Household Survey” look seriously suspect.

    Consider the 2010 rate: For age 14+ = 15.1%; for age 18+ = 15.9%:

    How does this stack up in terms of Australian estimated consumption of tobacco products?

    For example, the total of All Tobacco Products in Cigarette/Cigarette Equivalents for 2010-11 was 24,725,000,000 (higher estimate & including contraband).

    From this report
    we get that “The average number of cigarettes smoked per week has decreased from 111 cigarettes in 2010 to 96 cigarettes in 2013.”

    111 cigarettes per week over a year = 5772.

    If we divide 24,725,000,000 by 5772 = 4,283,610 (no. of smokers). That’s way, way higher than any estimate conjured by antismokers.

    The issue then is what percentage of the adult population the 4+million constitutes. To get the 14+ and 18+ denominators, we need births for the last 17 years (2010 back) which can be got here:[email protected]/Latestproducts/3301.0Main%20Features32012?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=3301.0&issue=2012&num=&view=

    Ages 1-13 (1998-2010) is 3,485,300;
    Ages 1-17 (1994-2010) is 4,505,200.

    The Australian population in 2010 was estimated at 22,200,000.

    Therefore, 22,200,000-3,485,300 gives us ages 14+ = 18,714,700; 22,200,000-4,505,200 gives us ages 18+ = 17,694,800.

    So, we have our denominators. For 2010

    No. of smokers / 14+ population = 4,283,610 / 18,714,700 = 0.2288 (22.9%);
    No. of smokers / 18+ population = 4,283,610 / 17,694,800 = 0.2421 (24.2%).

    So, that’s 22.9% and 24.2% compared to 15.1% and 15.9%. Even discounting the contraband contribution, those are very large discrepancies.

    The consumption data (cigarettes/equivalents) is not available for 2011, 2012, 2013. But it would be expected that the percentage of smokers in 2013, based on overall consumption data, would come in way higher than the indicated 12.8% (14+) or 13.3% (18+) from the household survey data.

  15. Aristogeiton

    Well, Dot, I went to watch David L (who, according to JCarbontrader, I “kneepad”, being some professional-homosexual parlance, the internet informs me). But the e-cig thing was on first and I had to watch. I’m still depressed from it. David L did very well. I almost bought his argument that gay “marriage” was an object lesson in tolerance (in the Millian sense) from a WASP.

  16. Some History

    Simon Crapman was again caught lying (what’s new), red-handed, recently:

    Was an apology issued? No way. Antismoking nut cases don’t do “apologies”. They just go on to the next lie that usually involves
    1) Contortions…. torturing…. mangling of information to fit the anti-tobacco agenda;
    2) Self-congratulations for their “wonderful” work (let’s throw a cocktail party for some back-slapping); that their tireless antismoking efforts are setting new records and milestones in the history of Public Health (indeed they are but not for the right reasons).
    3) Or it will involve depicting the tobacco industry as the current Satanic incarnation, engulfing the world in its evil, destructive clutches.
    4) Or combinations of the above.

    These antismoking miscreants have long been on auto pilot – their comments are mostly an attempt to turn any circumstance into exposing the “evil” tobacco empire or promoting themselves as the ‘saviours of the world”, even if it makes no sense at all, as it usually doesn’t. They know they can get away with it: They’ve been given a red-carpet ride by the media and government for the last 3 decades. I can’t remember the last time that a journalist actually asked a coherent, scrutinizing question of these bullies. And a journalist asking serious questions would need some intestinal fortitude because, question the antismokers conduct in any form, and they’ll immediately, like a feral reaction, be accused of being a “promoter of cancer” in cahoots with the “Merchants of Death”. A journalist would have to stand their ground and keep asking the questions.

  17. Aristogeiton

    Some History, I’m sick of the lie that e-cigs are some conspiracy of Big Tobacco (TM). In fact, the big brands have no significant market share; they will be late to the party, and the demographic won’t respect their brand, trust me. The other Chapman furphy is that of dual-use. I switched, and I feel no need to dual use. I get what I need. At the very least it decreases your need for smokes. After all: “every cigarette you smoke is doing you damage”.

  18. Aristogeiton

    The idea that, in the 21st century, we need to burn tobacco leaf to inhale nicotine is ridiculous. But that’s what these luddites seem to insist. Fuck us if we get cancer, so long as they continue to get funding. Assholes.

  19. Some History

    For anyone interested in why anti-tobacco is rife around the world, see comments by magnetic01 here:

    It highlights the abuse of “philanthropy” that goes back a century, e.g., Rockefeller. The new mega-money, e.g., Bloomberg, Gates, has simply fallen into line with the “established order”, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars (if not billions) into anti-tobacco “initiatives” around the world. There is a partnering of deranged ideology and greed that’s created an international network, a closed propaganda loop, involving “philanthropy” and unelected globalist organizations, e.g., World Health Organization, that is messing up societies around the world with their “health” agenda. (BTW Crapman was a WHO rep for some time).

  20. Aristogeiton

    Some History, are you a vaper?

  21. Aristogeiton

    I would really like to connect with the guy who has a problem with his cilia. Are you about mate?

  22. Some History

    “Some History, are you a vaper?”

    No, I don’t care for the gizmos at all. But I don’t have a problem with others using them.

  23. Viva

    Packaging Schmakaging – if fewer people are smoking for whatever reason then that’s a good thing.

  24. Aristogeiton

    Viva, fewer people are always smoking. The issue is whether they can take in their drug of choice safely.

  25. Esp Ghia

    People should be able to smoke and take other drugs as much as they like – in their own four walls so long as it’s hurting nobody else; but not in public areas. Cheers!

  26. Is there somebody out there that does’ t know that smoking cancer sticks is not the healthiest choice you can make? Cancer sticks was the nickname the smokes when I was a kid.

    Smokers have an above-average incidence of all risk-taking behaviour. Furthermore, as Viacusi found, smokers systematically overestimate the health risks of smoking.

  27. Some History

    Dick Puddlecote also has a piece on these latest antismoking shenanigans:

  28. Some History

    “Cancer sticks was the nickname the smokes when I was a kid.”

    “Cancer sticks”, “coffin nails”, “little white slaver” are throwbacks to 1800s/early-1900s America. In that time, all sorts of deranged, highly inflammatory claims were being made about the “deleterious” effects of smoking (and alcohol). Through the 1800s, the claims were being made by questionable “religious” groups that were breakaways from the Millerites (the Great Disappointment) and an assortment of “physicians”.

    It’s America that’s popularized antismoking insanity – again, and which other countries are following suit. The problem with Americans is that they are clueless to even their own recent history. America has a terrible history with this sort of “health” fanaticism/zealotry/extremism or “clean living” hysteria – including antismoking – that goes back more than a century.

    Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid, 400+ year history, much of it predating even the pretense of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. Statistics and causal attribution galore are conjured. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, oppression, and bigotry. One of the two major antismoking (and anti-alcohol, dietary prescriptions/proscriptions, physical exercise) crusades early last century was in America. [The other crusade was in Nazi Germany and the two crusades were intimately connected by physician-led eugenics]. The USA has been down this twisted, divisive path before. Consider the following: The bulk of claims made about smoking/tobacco were erroneous, baseless, but highly inflammatory. Unfortunately, the propaganda did its destructive job in the short term, producing mass hysteria or a bigotry bandwagon. When supported by the State, zealots seriously mess with people’s minds on a mass scale.

    “Cigarette Wars: The ‘Triumph’ of the Little White Slaver” (1998) by Cassandra Tate. Google the following combination – “the endless war on tobacco” “seattletimes” – which should bring up a summary article of the book at the Seattle Times. [Can’t provide the direct link or comment will not post for some reason]

  29. Some History

    Some insight into the connection between American eugenics – California in particular – and German eugenics.

    The Nazi “War on Tobacco”

  30. Leo G

    The proportion of daily smokers has fallen – smoking in Australia is in long-term decline

    The statement “smoking in Australia is in long-term decline” is true if the total number of cigarettes, cigars, etc smoked each year has been decreasing. The Cancer Council has previously published data indicating that cigarette consumption dropped about 25% between 1998 and 2010. Smoking by secondary school students reportedly dropped 65%.
    The problem with the data, I suspect, is in its reliance on self-reporting, particularly in an environment of increasing discrimination against smokers.
    There would be a related problem with the inference that the cause of the reduced smoking was the introduction of plain packaging.
    My personal view remains unchanged- that cigarettes are an unsafe delivery system for nicotine and should not be a legal product, and government is culpable for all morbidity and mortality caused by cigarette use while it derives revenue from the legal sale of cigarettes.

  31. Some History

    For anyone interested.
    It would shock folk how little antismoking “ferals” know about smoke/smoking.

    “Nicotine addiction” is a throwback to 1800s America. Nicotine was identified by Nicot in the early 1800s. Antismokers ALWAYS begin from the premise that there are no redeeming aspects to smoking. The obvious question, then, is why do people continue to smoke? Well, the 1800s antismokers surmised, it must be something in the smoke that “hooks” the smoker. And what might this be? The only thing antismokers were familiar with was nicotine. Therefore, according to them, it must be nicotine which is the “hooking” agent. That’s the simple-mindedness of it.

    Fast-forward to the 1970s and the WHO/Godber Blueprint. Post-WWII, tobacco smoking was not considered an addiction, and for good reason. Yet Godber, the father of the current antismoking crusade, was already referring to smokers as “nicotine addicts”, a throwback to 1800s America. Godber was typical of a rabid antismoking zealot. He could have fitted into the “clean living” hysteria of America without skipping a beat. It wasn’t until 1988 that the Office of the Surgeon-General, an organization long-hijacked by antismoking activists, incoherently redefined smoking as “nicotine addiction” in line with a [neo-eugenics] prohibitionist agenda.

    “Nicotine addiction” serves a number of twisted purposes. It connotes that smokers have the physical disease of addiction. It connotes the incoherent idea that smokers are reckless and incapable of sound thought/action and that addicts constantly endanger themselves and others. Therefore, smokers need to be rehabilitated. Enter Big Pharma. It has the very solution – “nicotine replacement therapy”. Problem is NRT is next to useless because nicotine addiction is itself one of many antismoking myths (lies).

  32. Some History

    Even the long-time rabidly antismoking Royal College of Physicians has had to concede:
    “It is now widely accepted that nicotine is the primary addictive component of tobacco smoke. In recent years, however, it has become clear that the psychobiological mechanisms which mediate the addiction are more complex than they first appeared……….However, the experimental animal data also indicate that, when compared with many other drugs of dependence, the reinforcing properties of nicotine appear relatively weak. Thus, it may be that nicotine alone does not have the powerful addictive properties necessary to account for the highly addictive nature of tobacco smoking, and that addiction to tobacco reflects complex interactions between nicotine, other stimuli associated with the inhalation of tobacco smoke, and possibly other environmental, social or behavioural stimuli associated with smoking.” (p.45, 2007)

    Having duped the public for decades about “nicotine addiction”, the zealots now want to [further] bastardize language. They still want to use the word “addiction” even though the basis for it has just been shown as incoherent. They now want to include behavioral and social aspects into the definition of “addiction”. Once we get beyond a pharmacological effect of a constituent and into behavioral, social, environmental aspects, then we’re no longer talking about addiction in the sense that the zealots intend to use it. But zealots want it all ways, continually shifting the goalposts.

    A prominent American Tobacco Control advocate, Michael Siegel, recently noted that the idea of “addiction” is highly “flexible” in antismoking circles: “The anti-smoking advocates seem to change the science on whether smoking is a choice or an addiction based on the issue of the day. If the issue is a lawsuit, then smoking is an addiction. If the issue is refusing to hire smokers, then smoking is a choice. If the issue is the FDA regulating nicotine, then smoking is an addiction. If the issue is denying medical care to smokers, then smoking suddenly becomes a choice again.” To which can be added, when it comes to extortionate taxes, smoking suddenly becomes a choice again.

  33. Aristogeiton

    Sorry Some History. It’s nicotine that does the trick.

  34. mundi

    I think Sinclair Davidson has misunderstood the data here.

    The number of cigarettes has gone up because those who smoke less have stopped.

    The average number of cigarettes per smoker has gone up because only the heavier smokers are left.

    The average number of cigarettes per young female is indeed down.

  35. C.L.

    Anti-smoking Nazis – using the word advisedly – don’t really care about health any more than “War on Woman” boosters care about women. What they don’t like – nay, what they loathe with cold, livid fury – is everyman paying no heed to the moral authority of the state; paying no attention to them. There are people out there doing something we’ve told them not to do and they must be punished. Who do they think they are?

  36. Some History

    C.L. Agree. There are very substantial dangers posed by the moralizing zealot mentality, particularly the medically-aligned over the last century. The mentality when supported by the State can wreak utter havoc with a society.

  37. Leo G

    I think Sinclair Davidson has misunderstood the data here.

    The number of cigarettes has gone up because those who smoke less have stopped.
    The average number of cigarettes per smoker has gone up because only the heavier smokers are left.
    The average number of cigarettes per young female is indeed down.

    My interpretation of consumption data and observational studies since 2000, was that the number of cigarettes smoked by the median smoker has been steadily reducing, the proportion of people who have never smoked is increasing in each age decile, and that among young smokers the median age at taking up smoking is increasing.

  38. .

    I love it when “Some History” rolls up to kick some arse.

  39. harleyrider1978

    World Atlas: More People Smoking Cigarettes than Ever

    There are more people smoking now than ever before, despite health warnings and the rising price of cigarettes. In 1980, 4,453 billion cigarettes went up in smoke, which increased to 6,319 billion in 2010. By 2020, you can expect to find nearly seven billion cigarette ends littering the world.

    Top of the charts in terms of nicotine addiction are Asia and Australia, which is where 57 percent of cigarettes are smoked today.

    These alarming statistics are among many of the intriguing facts laid bare in the ninth edition of Dan Smith’s The State of the World Atlas.

    Elsewhere, the book reports that 19 percent of Americans say they could not feed their families in 2011, despite living in one of the world’s richest countries. Meanwhile, 20 percent of India’s population remains undernourished, despite its Gross National Income rising by 450 percent since 1990.

    An even more shocking revelation is that 2.5 billion people live on less than £1.25 a day, which represents one in three of the global population.

  40. harleyrider1978

    This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke:

    Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds.

    By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News.

    Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe.

    What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none.

    “I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study………………………

    Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it!

    The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered:

    Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year.


    A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose.

    Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh!

  41. struth

    “This is champagne-cork pulling time”………………..



  42. Rococo Liberal

    Lefties just love their logical fallacies don’t they?

    This latest brouhaha over smoking is a classic case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. The other common fallacies of the left are tu quoque (though CL like that one too :)), the zero sum fallac , begging the question and that old stand-by the non-sequitur..

  43. C.L.

    There is nothing fallacious about calling out people for applying an alleged principle or set of principles to one, for them, convenient case but not to companionable, ideologically inconvenient cases. It goes to establishing that the alleged principle is not a principle at all – either to them personally or generally.

  44. Tim K

    Like Aristogeiton, I too choose to vape. I have been off cigarettes now for the longest time since I started as a teenager over 25 years ago. It’s the liquid nicotine buzz that keeps my mind from entering thoughts of having “just one more” real durrie. The savings from not buying cigarettes are going towards another overseas trip at the end of the year.

    I was surprised when visiting the US earlier this year at the difference in cost and social acceptance of tobacco. depending on where you were. From cheap ($5 packs) and “smoke wherever you want” Las Vegas to expensive ($12 packs) and “don’t even smoke on the street” Wakiki

  45. Denise Lackmann

    HAH!!!! Meth is on the rise cause it’s cheaper. Plain packaging..WHAT???? exaggerated pictures.
    I’ve read articles that said 85% up goes to the government and non smokers actually cost the tax payers 15% upwards “MORE” than non smokers in the medical industry.. My father was a boilermaker in big air conditoners and because he had smoked in his younger life they put on the death certificate at 75 yrs old that it was smoking related. The statistics are very very incorrect and the government departments hire people to state the negatives of smoking so they can “TAX” us. I know more non smokers who have died from emphasemia than smokers. I worked in the city for nearly all my life and “I KNOW” the pollution from every car and bus that passed through was breath taking. I lived in the country for a few years and when I hit the highway Caboolture onwards it made me gasp. The people who have been paid to tax the smokers are greedy fools and I have no respect for greedy fools who drive a car, fly in aeroplanes, use chemicals in their houses… you get what I mean. Greedy fools not paying their own share of taxes. Get totally stuffed ignoramuses.

  46. Iro

    Nicotine in isolation is not addictive. If people crave for it, it is because it has benefits, the main one being that it improves concentration and helps focus.

    Even the creator of the world famous Nicotine dependence test, Karl Fagerström, now admits that nicotine in isolation is not what causes ”addiction” and has now renamed his test to ”cigarette dependence test”.

    Perpetuating the myth that nicotine is addictive is imperative to the livelihoods of the professional anti-smokers and to the pharmaceutical industry that funds most of them. They keep piling them up and using them ad nauseam exactly like this latest lie about plain packaging lowering smoking prevalence that was just exposed.

  47. sharon

    I do believe nicotine is addictive but not as much as is believed. when I smoked I was heavily addicted, when I switched to vaping I realised I didnt have the same severe cravings and I could go much longer without it. when you take nicotine without all the other chemicals and additives, it is only mildly addictive IMO.

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