Friday, 13 May 2016

Plain packaging working well then?

An article at The Conversation shows a graph that will be familiar to readers of this blog but has rarely been seen elsewhere. The graph is designed to show the efficacy of tax rises in reducing (legal) cigarette purchases but it inadvertently shows the rise in consumption that took place as soon as plain packaging was introduced.

As regular readers know, the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics clearly show sales rising in every quarter under plain packaging. It took a significant tax increase to bring about the same kind of decline that was taking place before the legislation was enforced. Smokers have since been hit by two further tax hikes in an attempt to save the 'public health' lobby's blushes.

Meanwhile in Tasmania, the people campaigning to raise the smoking age to 21 (ie. the government) are having to tacitly admit that plain packaging didn't work.

The government says a rise in the number of underage smokers in the state vindicates its push to raise the legal smoking age.

An analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data by health analyst Martyn Goddard revealed the rate of smoking among Tasmanians aged 15 to 24 rose by about 6.7 per cent in three years.

In three years, eh? Plain packaging came in - what? - three and a half years ago. How very awkward.

Or it would be awkward if anyone bothered to ask the obvious question. Instead, the crusade keeps on rolling. More taxes! Raise the smoking age! Anything to divert attention from the failure of previous policies.

It is not just that previous failures are ignored. It is worse than that. The failure of previous policies becomes the justification for more policies. We saw the same thing in South Australia back in 2014 when the government used the rise in smoking prevalence since plain packs were introduced to promote outdoor smoking bans...

Health Minister Jack Snelling said the new measures would help to tackle an increase in the State’s smoking rates which have increased from 16.7 per cent to 19.4 percent over the past 12 months.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: tobacco control is not a results-driven business. If these people worked in commerce they would have been sacked long ago. As it is, they should merely be in prison.

PS. Meanwhile, on the non-existent slippery slope...

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