Thursday 13 March 2014

Scraping the barrel for good news about plain packs

This story has been passed around quite a bit in recent days by people who clearly haven't read it properly...

Tobacco industry claims on impact of plain packaging go up in smoke

One of Australia's biggest tobacco companies has been accused of lying after it claimed plain packaging of cigarettes has had "no impact" in Australia except to increase illegal cigarette smuggling.

...In fact, despite the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service increasing its capture of illegal tobacco, only one haul of "plain packaged" illegal cigarettes has been found.

The illicit "plain packaged" cigarettes from China likely represent fewer than 4 per cent of all cigarettes captured since plain packaging began, a Fairfax Media analysis has found.

So what? The evidence coming in from Australia indicates that the main effect of plain packaging has not been to encourage the counterfeiting of plain packs, but to encourage the production of completely fake brands such as Manchester (shown below). Manchester is not a legal brand and never has been and yet it had a 1.4 per cent market share in Australia in 2013 (up from 0.3 per cent in 2012).

In any case, the fact that 3.9 per cent of seized cigarettes were in plain packs tells us nothing about about whether plain packaging has increased cigarette smuggling.

The latest Customs annual report states it seized an average of 17 million cigarettes each month, meaning about 255 million have been captured since plain packaging began.

That is a hell of a lot, but there is still no indication of whether it is more or less than was seized before plain packs came in. Finally, in the penultimate sentence, we get this...

...the Customs annual report showed the highest detected levels of illicit tobacco in three years.

In other words, the number of seizures has risen since the policy was introduced in December 2012. Although seizures reflect only a small proportion of the total illicit market - which must be massive - the seizure figures are consistent with the prediction that the market would grow while being totally inconsistent with the headline.

The prohibitionists are getting desperate with this kind of garbage and yet the media laps it up.


TobaccoTactics said...

This is called damage control after tweeting the Australian Customs Annual Report:

Furor Teutonicus said...

Note place of production.

I have sold these whilst working in a petrol station during uni.

I do not know where you get the evidence from that they are illegal.

Furor Teutonicus said...

P.S, and the petrol station was in Britain!

nisakiman said...

Maybe so, FT, but according to Company Check their cash, net worth, assets and liabilities are all £0. And they're listed as 'dormant'.

More on the subject here.