Memo to Sussan Ley: It’s the cover up not the stuff up …

The Department of Health still have an erroneous claim up on their website:

DOH october 2015

But when it first went up in June 2014 it looked somewhat different:

DOH June 2014

It looks like the Department of Health has added a few sentences. Well, atually, whole paragraphs.

Those changes occured sometime between May 17, 2015 and September 13, 2015. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the changes occurred around about August 10, 2015. That’s when the Treasury actually released the underlying data. We covered the story at the time.

Tobacco clearances increased in the 12 month period following the introduction of the plain packaging policy by 0.5%. Yes – that number is exactly half of one percent. But is is also a 3.952% (i.e. a rounding error away from 4%) turn around from what Treasury and the Health Department claimed to be the case.

Now to be fair to Sussan Ley, she inherited this misleading claim when she became Health Minister in December 2014. Peter Dutton was the minister responsible for the original – false – claim. But she has presided over the cover-up.

What a cover-up it is. They retain the original, now discredited, 3.4% decline claim. They add additional superfluous information, but at least they do report the increased excise duty. Yet we still get the impression the entire decrease is due to plain packaging. They still fudge the start date of the plain packaging policy, and completely ignore the excise refunds.

Straight out of the Phil “hide the decline” Jones school of research ethics.

I can understand that the Department of Health is somewhat embarrassed by the whole affair and don’t want to lose face. Careers have been built, research grants applied for, millions of dollars actually spent, and so on. But they could stop lying about the effectiveness of the policy.

This entry was posted in Hypocrisy of progressives, Plain Packaging, Take Nanny down, Treasury. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Memo to Sussan Ley: It’s the cover up not the stuff up …

  1. Habib says:

    Of course they conveniently ignore the market swing to chop and smuggled product from China. Who takes any notice of government stats anyway? They’re more bent than a Lightbulb Head negotiated workplace agreement.

  2. H B Bear says:

    Yep – don’t forget the Mo Lights from the UAE either. For that smooth desert taste.

  3. Infidel Tiger says:

    The illegal cigarettes they’ve discovered may represent 5% of the black market in their dreams. More like 1%.

    I love markets in action. Humans are very dynamic when they need to be.

  4. Pusnip says:

    The health department has a bit of form in the misinformation stakes, being supportive of the nonsense Collins &Lapsley studies on the social costs of smoking IIRC.

  5. Talleyrand says:

    Amazing how those in the Health Regulatory industries are so confident on being able to ban, and restrict Tobacco products. Yet, these same puritans argue we must practise harm minimisation of illegal drugs, and take the lesson of the Prohibition of alcohol in the USA.

    The cognitive dissonance spills out with no sense of shame.

  6. Blogstrop says:

    But they could stop lying about the effectiveness of the policy.

    It’s such a teensy weensy lie compared to The Big Climate Scam.

  7. alan moran says:

    Zealotry in pursuit of smoking appears to cause analytical blindness and a reluctance to have this tested.
    DoH was supposed to have produced a post implementation review on “plain packaging” by June of this year but it is running late. This is presumably while they try to conjure up some supportive data to justify seizing the value of the tobacco companies’ property rights which the High Court found had been extinguished by the regulatory action.

  8. Craig says:


    How you forget, those who are receiving funding have a lifestyle to maintain, mortgages to pay, families to feed so of course they will fudge to maintain this deception. Self interest first and FU tax pay second.

  9. Jessie says:

    The untouchables in research and grant income distribution………….. makes one think if the medical research fund got started they might have had to compete with clinical medicine/research outside of their statutory authority ATSIC NHMRC…………….

    On 20 December 1996, Justice J Finn of the Federal Court of Australia handed down his judgment in the case of the Tobacco Institute of Australia (TIA) Ltd and others v the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and others. Justice Finn concluded that, in developing its recommendations for control of environmental tobacco smoke, the NHMRC’s Working Party on Passive Smoking erred significantly in regard to the consultative procedures that it employed. As the following discussion shows, the legal decision has profound implications for the NHMRC and the provision of expert advice to Australian governments on matters of health and health policy. The discussion has been prepared by three members of the NHMRC Working Party, but reflects their personal views and not necessarily those of the Working Party as a whole or those of the NHMRC.

    Source: How the NHMRC got its fingers burnt

  10. Baldrick says:

    Politician’s and bureaucrats have our best interests at heart.
    sarc off

  11. Rabz says:

    The simple fact is, if you’re a politician/bureaucrat involved in demonising smoking, there is no claim too preposterous, no lie too egregious, no statistic too inaccurate to ever be bothered retracting.

    It’s for the good of you peasants, so shut up. 🙂

  12. Rabz says:

    Ooops – and no tax too extortionate …

  13. Jimbo says:

    The internet way back machine website might shed light on when the change was made.

    [Indeed – that is how I isolated the dates in the post. Sinc]

  14. Some History says:

    They retain the original, now discredited, 3.4% decline claim. They add additional superfluous information……

    Sounds pretty normal for the antismoker industry (also includes government). And the antismokers spake “LET THERE BE NUMBERS”. And there were numbers….. an avalanche of numbers…. a tsunami of numbers. And, lo and behold, the numbers always ….without exception…. every time… supported the antismokers’ ranting and raving. Need a veneer of support for some harebrained antismoker idea? No problem. The number shamans of antismoking can whip up a batch of numbers pronto.

    More numbers, please!

    The numbers really begin with “death tolls”. Few ask from whence these numbers come. Well, we can thank the US of A.

    There is an account of the US Centers for Disease Control’s (long committed to the “smokefree” world) “Smoking Attributed Morbidity/Mortality and Economic Cost” (SAMMEC) – which spits out the smoking “death toll” we incessantly hear – from page 92 in the book “Rampant Antismoking Signifies Grave Danger” (the book is available for free download here ). Any country can make use of the SAMMEC program by inputting, for example, population and estimated number of smokers and, with a few strokes on the computer keyboard [click] [click] [click], voila, instant “death toll” (and associated “economic cost”).

    Don Oakley (1999), “Slow Burn”, also has a description.(if you can find a free copy).

    Although all of these spout the “death toll” with the greatest of confidence, I would be very confident that most in Public Health wouldn’t have a clue how the smoking “death toll” (that “exists” in a statistical fantasy world) is arrived at. And I would be very confident that all in government and the media would be clueless.

    For this statistical fantasy to be given a veneer of “reality”, it is constantly piggy-backed onto actual death tolls where underlying causation is well understood, e.g., the “death toll” from smoking is higher than road deaths, illicit drug overdose deaths, and murders combined. There are those in society (i.e., the gullible) that actually believe that the smoking “death toll”, a statistical fantasy, has been meticulously produced from autopsy data that specifically reveals smoking as the “cause” of death. And this is exactly what the propagandists want people to believe.

    There are now instances where doctors are putting on death certificates that a particular fatal disease was specifically “caused” by smoking.

    The SAMMEC process is not only a terrible abuse of the flimsy relative risk statistic but it maximally misrepresents information. For example, there is no partitioning of known confounders for particular diseases. So smoking is presented as a singular “cause” for raw RRs. If that’s not bad enough, it gets way worse when it gets to the level of doctors imputing “cause” for a variety of medical conditions. Medical doctors are not trained in the scientific method or quantitative methods for that matter. We know that the “death toll” comes from elevated RRs above a [nonsmoking] baseline. We know that causal attribution, let alone sole causal attribution, is entirely arguable and SAMMEC does not partition for confounders. The result is not only a nonsensical “death toll”, but an inflated, nonsensical “death toll”. I would venture that most, if not all, medicos wouldn’t have a clue what a “baseline” refers to. So, when falsely attributing causal status to smoking in multiple individual cases, this number will be even more inflated because it will also erroneously include the baseline rate for all RRs for specific disease. In other words, smoking will be blamed for every smoker presenting with a specific [“smoking-related”] disease. It just goes from very bad to worse. It’s a circus of incompetence and zealotry, amongst other things, that has produced a dangerous, institution-wide superstition. Remember that these nut cases are also considered “experts”.

    It must be noted that RRs are based on group-level differences that have little-to-no extrapolation value to the individual level. But this doesn’t stop the antismoking nut cases. They are all too willing to attribute causation to smoking/smoke in individual cases of disease/death. I’ve even heard of instances where medicos are telling nonsmokers with lung cancer that it was specifically caused by the secondhand smoke that they were exposed to in the lunch room at work all those years ago. There is no information that would allow these sorts of claims to be made in individual cases. At a saner time these sorts of baseless, highly inflammatory claims would have attracted a session before a disciplinary tribunal. Rather, this derangement is now the norm.

  15. Some History says:


    If we’re going to conjure a “death toll”, why not a global “death toll”? No problem. It’ll just take a few extra minutes on the computer….. [click] [click] [click]…. instant “death tolls”, all in nicely rounded numbers. Behold a more recent venture into number “magic” by that august pillar of impartiality [giggle], the World Crap Health Organization (the prime mover for the “smokefree” world):

    Passive smoking claims more than 600,000 lives each year around the world, an estimated 1 per cent of all deaths, a major study has found.
    Children are the group most heavily exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke, and around 165,000 of them die as a result, said researchers.
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) study is the first to assess the global impact of inhaling other people’s smoke.
    Based on 2004 data, the figures show smoking in that year killed almost six million people, either actively or passively by claiming the lives of non-smokers.

    Or we could go for multiplying a conjured “toll” by “many years” (e.g., a century) to concoct even larger [senseless] numbers. For example, here’s Glantz, an expert in crapistry, claiming that antismoking measures will “save” a “billion lives” (over the next century) – another nice, really big, round number:
    “It’s About a Billion Lives February 8 — Save the Date”
    “Tobacco may lead to extinction of 1 billion people in 21st century”

  16. Jcinq says:

    Does the Minister include this in the current data or will it be in the next quarter’s results?

  17. Some History says:

    Another issue to be considered concerning ever-increasing extortionate taxes on tobacco – “addiction”. The prohibitionist nut cases (and the greedy political class) keep claiming that tobacco use is due to [nicotine] “addiction”, a throwback to 1800s America. They claim that it’s even “more addictive” than heroin or cocaine (does anyone know where this deranged claim originated?). If they believe this, then why impose ever-increasing taxes on tobacco. It would seem to be an act of cruelty.

    Professor Michael Siegel, although also a prohibitionist, has tried to distance himself from what are more and more baseless, hysterical claims by the antismoking clique. He recently [accurately] 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, magically becomes a choice again.

    The greatest skill of antismoking nut cases is self-promoting BS….. and loads of it.

  18. Some History says:

    On past similar threads I’ve introduced readers to some of the “heavyweights” of antismoking. These provide an insight into the antismoking mentality – fixated, megalomaniacal, neurotic, narcissistic, pathological lying, a “god” complex.

    This week let me introduce you to Leroy J. Pletten. Leroy is at the extreme of the extreme; his is top(bottom?)-shelf derangement. Some background…. some explanation… on good ol’ Leroy is necessary. Leroy J. Pletten is an asthmatic and rabid, long-time antismoker. He was the vice-presidential candidate for the Prohibition Party in the 2004 and 2008 US elections.

    We need to understand that America has a terrible history with “clean living” hysteria, including antismoking/tobacco, that goes back to the early 1800s. A plethora of baseless, highly-inflammatory claims about the “deleterious effects” of tobacco smoking were peddled by both the Temperance (religious) and Eugenics (medical) Movements. These claims reached an hysterical peak through the first few decades of the early 20th century where smoking bans were instituted in quite a number of American states with the intent by activists at a national ban on smoking/tobacco. Although baseless, i.e., lies, these claims did their dastardly job in the short term. It took a few decades to discount/discredit the bulk of these claims.

    This is where Pletten’s website has both some good and mostly bad aspects. The “good” aspect is that he has gone to great lengths to research the [baseless] antismoking claims made by religious and medical fanatics/zealots that go back to the 1800s. So the information he provides on what was claimed [with no basis] all those years ago is accurate. But what is entirely lost on Pletten is that these 19th and early-20th century claims were baseless and have long been discredited/discounted. Rather, Pletten is attempting to “resurrect” these insane claims as if they are long lost “knowledge” of the deleterious effects of smoking. Which brings us to the mostly bad aspects of Pletten’s website.

    Pletten has a multiplicity of lengthy pages replete with highly inflammatory, hateful claims, not unlike a neo-Nazi site. He moves through “information” from the 1800’s to contemporary, from historical to legal to medical to religious, without batting an eyelid. He is a hack of all trades, and a master of none: He is equally incompetent in all fields. Yet, this incompetence melds with multiple considerable delusions that find voice in the fixation of antismoking. It is almost painful to try to follow how tidbits of incongruent, discordant information are cherry-picked from a variety of sources and disciplines, warped and twisted to fit and justify the fixation. Long-discredited claims are intertwined with current [fraudulent] claims. The bulk of the presentation is inaccurate and hateful, and gives a clear indication of the abject hatred that is going about in this person’s mind. He makes numerous slanderous remarks about smokers: It is a “hatred of smokers” site. Amongst other deluded claims, he notes that the medical establishment is a “pure” authority worthy of complete trust in its claims – appeal to authority. He writes that those that say that correlation is not causation don’t know what they’re talking about, etc., etc. The bottom line to Pletten’s “reasoning”, through a plethora of information and inferential errors, is that the prohibition of tobacco will remove all disease and crime from society. He is a moralizing zealot nutcase just like those of a century ago. He would have fitted right in with the incessant lying and hysteria of 19th century antismoking fanaticism; it’s no surprise that he’s second in charge of the Prohibition Party. The critical problem is that there are other antismoking websites that link to Pletten’s as if it is an oasis or repository of accurate information on smoking. It’s surprising that his website hasn’t been shut down for incitement to hatred. Pletten is seriously, dangerously deluded; he’s socio-pathic. He should be pointed to as an excellent example of a dangerously-deluded antismoking-zealot nutcase, the likes of which has been seen before. But while it still remains on the internet his website is useful as a repository of the absurd, hysterical claims made about tobacco over many, many years, typically peddled by religious and medical fanatics through the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority”.

    Peruse the site, but be advised. This is his introduction to the site:
    This site is sponsored as a public service by
    The Crime Prevention Group.

  19. Austin Mangosteen says:

    Some History
    #1827622, posted on October 16, 2015 at 9:41 am

    There are now instances where doctors are putting on death certificates that a particular fatal disease was specifically “caused” by smoking.

    Jeanne Louise Calment (France), the oldest fully authenticated person to have lived, died from a smoking related illness on 4 August 1997, aged 122 years 164 days. She smoked all her adult life up until her death. When she was 117 years old, the doctors warned her that smoking would kill her.

  20. JB Sydney/Shanghai says:

    Making cocaine, heroin, ice, etc. has really worked well so far, hasn’t it? According to peanut heads, once something is made illegal, the problem is solved. I am in a state of gloom, regarding our future.

  21. Some History says:

    Does the Minister include this in the current data or will it be in the next quarter’s results?

    While the Minister is gloating about this latest seizure, the brain dead media don’t hammer the Minister with the elephant in the room – a flourishing contraband market has been singularly, solely created by ultra-greedy government egged on by antismoking zealot nut cases. Every seizure is testimony to the shameful stupidity of government.

    In the early days, the prohibitionist fruitcakes denied that there was any contraband market, that it was all just fear-mongering by “evil” Big Tobacco. But with seizures, a contraband market can’t be denied. So the antismoking miscreants deny that it has anything to do with ever-increasing extortionate taxes that are now in the realm of “twilight zone” derangement/stupidity. According to the zealot nitwits, a contraband market just magically appeared – poof – one day for no apparent reason that now coincidentally thwarts all of their “wonderful” work.

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