The Department of Health still have an erroneous claim up on their website:
But when it first went up in June 2014 it looked somewhat different:
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.