Friday, 4 October 2013

Plain packs: longer transaction times, more mistakes, higher costs

This week, new research came out of Australia showing the impact of plain packaging on businesses that sold tobacco. Roy Morgan Research surveyed 450 shopkeepers and unsurprisingly—but contrary to the promises of anti-smoking campaigners—found that the legislation has been a pain in the arse for both retailers and customers.

Overall, around two-thirds of small retailers rated plain packaging as having had a negative impact on their business (69%).

The majority of retailers indicated that their staff now have a heavier workload since the introduction of plain packaging (63%).

As the chart below shows, the majority of retailers found themselves spending more time selling cigarettes than before the legislation came in:

And, as the next chart shows, the majority of retailers reported giving customers the incorrect product more often since the legislation came in:

It's important to remember that the, ahem, peer-reviewed evidence from the anti-smoking lobby confidently predicted that plain packaging would reduce transaction times and reduce the number of mistakes made at the counter. Remember, also, that they confidently predicted that the display ban would not increase transaction times.

Consider what that means. They are saying that a newsagent will be able to identify and pick up a pack of cigarettes more easily if all the packs look the same and he has to slide a door open every time than if the cigarettes are clearly distinguishable and he can simply turn around and reach for them. This is what fundamentalism and junk science can do to a person—it can make them believe things that are obviously absurd. Needless to say, their evidence was policy-based garbage.

So, plain packs are bad for business—not because retailers sell less tobacco but because it takes them longer to sell what people want.

Still, it's not all bad news...

Two-thirds of the total sample reported that they now feel less favourable towards the government as a result of the plain packaging legislation (65%). This includes almost half who reported feeling much less favourable (46%).

And so they should.


nisakiman said...

Never fear, this research will be spun into how successful plain packaging has been.

And indeed, as far as the TCI are concerned, it is a success, as it has made the lives of smokers, and those who supply them, much more onerous. Which was doubtless the intention from the outset.

Furor Teutonicus said...

How does this effect Pipe tobacco? (I am a pipe smoker).

Is that also in "plain packs" now? How the Hel are people supossed to know what is "black cherry" and what is Rum and maple", or whatever???