How’s that war on tobacco going?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare put out their latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey today. This survey comes out every 3 years. We covered it last time here.

I have updated the graph showing the downward trend in daily smoking and tobacco control policy. The latest data are that 11% of Australian adult smoke daily.

Now – you might think that this is glorious victory for public policy until you realise that smoking rates have been falling for decades. I still maintain that plain packaging as a policy failed, even though the courts have ruled that it is legal. The decline in daily smoking is above the long-term trend, i.e. the rate of decline is lower than what it would otherwise be.

But wait – there is more. Looking at the actual tables we observe a strange thing.

The proportion of daily smokers has declined from 12.2% to 11%. The proportion of Never smoked has increased from 62.3% to 63.1%. But the proportion of Ex-smokers (or quitters) has remained constant. What has happened is that the proportion of smokers smoking less often has increased. It also looks like the proportion of males under 18 smoking has increased, while the proportion of females smoking under 18 has dramatically decreased.

Vaping is up, cannabis use is up, cocaine use is up, ecstasy use is up.

As the report indicates poorer people tend to consume tobacco while richer people consume other illicit drugs. The government is persecuting smokers and not users of actually illegal substances.

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14 Responses to How’s that war on tobacco going?

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    I suspect also there’s an increasing reluctance to fess up to Karens-with-clipboards that you smoke. Especially if you smoke illegal tobacco. We know the black economy for tobacco has risen dramatically, with more big busts of both tobacco growing and imported cigarettes. Therefore as people increasingly turn to the cheaper option (ie sans tax) they’re going to be more reluctant to answer questions honestly in case of legal persecution. How you quantify this effect though is going to be tricky.

  2. Professor Fred Lenin

    It is becoming rarer to see people smoking in public . Years ago there used to be a big crowd of smokers outside the ANZ centre in Collins street Melbourne the smoke was in a small cloud as you passed , last year I walked past and there were two furtive guilty looking poor paraiah smokers , both female ,big change there . At my local shopoing centre more than half of the few smokers are females .)

  3. NoFixedAddress

    Bruce of N

    With current excise duty by whatever name at shade over $1300 per kilogram of tobacco the waterproof bales must be littering the sea around the coast.

  4. Nob

    The 11% is maintained by immigrants who smoke.

    When the old Greeks, Vietnamese and Chinese die off, rates will drop again and hey presto, another public health policy success!

    It’s the oldest trick in the book: create an unnecessary bureaucracy to deal with some declining public issue then declare every imposition a huge success.

  5. The Manager

    I will quit again when the Wuflu is gone

  6. Tim Neilson

    How you quantify this effect though is going to be tricky.

    They used to get a survey done by having every empty packet and pouch picked up over wide areas reasonably representative of the nation (except no doubt the outback).
    Then they’d ascertain the proportion of legal versus illegal.
    Given that they keep meticulous records of legal tobacco it was fairly easy to get an idea from those proportions how much illegal tobacco was being consumed.
    But then one of those surveys showed an unapproved answer. It showed that, although plain packaging and excise increases had caused a slight fall in legal tobacco, illegal had gone up by more, so the total tobacco consumption had actually increased.
    Thereafter that methodology was declared “unreliable”.
    They still do a “tax gap” estimate on how much tobacco excise is being evaded, but if you check the ATO website to find how they make that estimate there’s lots of verbiage about “robust” methodologies etc., but if you read carefully you can tell that it’s based on unverified assumptions.

  7. Natural Instinct

    Doomlord, I think you have not gone in hard enough

    The government is persecuting smokers…

    How about:

    The government is deliberately sucking the life savings out of poor, old age pensioners.
    The government is bashing to penury poor invalid pensioners who do not have much fun besides the occasional smoke.
    In the name of public health, the government acts like a monster

    Don’t they have a heart (hurting vulnerable people) , or a brain (inconsistent).
    We are all going to die. Some people want to help the process along by smoking. Others by drinking. Others by riding push bikes in traffic, and others by skydiving, etc. Is it the government’s role create prices signals on all high risk activities? If so I have a list.

  8. NoFixedAddress

    If taxes on tobacco products are decreasing then marijuana should become legal within 10 years so they can tax that also.

  9. C.L.

    I channel-flipped on to Territory Cops tonight.
    Half of the action is boyo coppers raiding deadbeat pot heads and the odd metho.

    In a just country, they’d be raiding shops that sell cigs for anything more than about $10.
    Off to jail for them.

  10. NoFixedAddress

    I wonder how much ‘tobacco tax’ is left after funding all the tobacco sin research, legals, collections, science ™ , enforcement, WHO meetings on eradication, ‘elf departments, etc, etc.

  11. Some History

    Snowdon’s review of Jacob Grier’s new book

    The shameful history of the anti-smoking crusade
    Jacob Grier’s The Rediscovery of Tobacco shows how the war on smoking has been built on junk science, class snobbery and plenty of cash.

  12. Some History

    Remember all of those studies across various countries indicating that smokers were under-represented in the covid-19 stats? Well, that’s all been “disappeared” by the World Health Organization, an outfit long committed to a “tobacco free” universe.

    Meet Florence from the WHO, “first ever digital health worker” (i.e., digital crap artist)

    & partners launched the Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco, incl. the first ever digital health worker, to help 1.3 billion tobacco users quit. Stopping smoking is more important than ever as smokers are more likely to have severe outcomes from #COVID19. #NoTobacco

    World Health Organization (WHO)
    • Jul 11
    The Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco gives people free access to Florence, a digital health worker, based on artificial intelligence that dispels myths around #COVID19 & tobacco and helps people develop a personalized plan to achieve #NoTobacco

  13. wal1957

    Bruce of Newcastle @ 4:52 pm

    I agree with you re the black economy for tobacco. It is thriving.
    Chop Chop has been scarce due to the restrictions around the Covid scare, but will make a return after those travel restraints are lifted.
    As for the plain packaging…all that did was make you check that you had been given the brand you paid for. The graphic health warnings…ask any smoker if they noticed them—the answer is invariably no!

  14. DrBeauGan

    I note that the decrease in smoking rates is paralleled by an increase in mass hysteria, about smoking but also about agw, WuFlu, and black lives mattering more than any other colour. Could this be causal? Does nicotine reduce neuroticism?

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