Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Smoke lobby should be ashen-faced

Plain packaging is only the latest in a series of "nanny state" measures started in 1973 to curb the prevalence of tobacco smoking. The Department of Health today put out a fact sheet to celebrate the success of this bipartisan policy - the star of which is the above graph - which comprehensively debunks the ridiculous stance of tobacco denialism which is splashed across the Australian newspaper today.

The raft of articles, attacking Stephen Koukoulas as he details here, is much the same sort of group bullying tactics as the Murdoch press used against Margaret Simons for her comments regarding the Finkelstein inquiry into the media in 2012. In both cases, the attacks include an accusation that the target failed to disclose their previous work for ALP in government - attacks that are for a large part made by those who fail to similarly disclose their affiliations with the Liberal Party. Sinclair Davidson joins in the Koukpile, which is de rigueur for mavens of the Institute of Public Affairs who have a history of funding by Big Tobacco.

Media Watch ran the theory on Monday that the real agenda from the tobacco lobby was not in Australia, where the battle has been lost, but in Britain and Ireland where plain packaging is still being debated. This argument is quoted from Mike Daube, who makes a habit of trolling Big Tobacco for justice.

I have a lot of time for News Corp Australia, and many people within it. They employ a lot of good people who do fine work on a daily basis, the nitty gritty of journalism which is a thankless and low-margin task. I get that the Australian prides itself on being a campaigning paper, and there is nothing wrong with that in principle. In practice, however, the mob mentality that is unleashed when people like Simons and Koukoulas are singled out for rough treatment undermines the credibility of not only News but all of journalism, and contributes to the distinct unpopularity of the journalism profession in the minds of a public who is largely ignored at times like this.

If you're going to campaign, do it on behalf of your readers please, not corporate interests.

UPDATE: Sinclair responds to the above graph:
There is a long-term downward trend in tobacco usage in Australia. We all know and understand this to be the case. But look at the impact policy has had on usage. Nothing. The downward trend doesn't seem to respond much to ever increasing regulation.
This is rank stupidity in the form of a logical fallacy, deliberately ignoring cause and effect. I have taken the liberty of preparing a graph from the ABS figures since 1959 on chain trend per capita in dollar terms, along with labels as to pre-1990 policy changes.

For Sinclair to say that policy has had no impact on usage is ludicrous. Usage had been flat for more than a decade before the policy changed, and usage changed with it.


  1. Sinclair DavidsonJune 18, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Paul - I actually agree with your latter analysis - increased awareness of the health risks of tobacco has driven changes in behaviour - the policies trumpeted by the Health Department since the 1990s, not so much.

  2. I would not say it is increased awareness of the health risks that can be congratulated as the main factor. It is nanny statism that should take the credit: specifically, market interventionism in the form of bans on advertising and proscribing of usage in an increasing number of physical areas, and latterly a series of "nudge" policies in the form of massive excise hikes and now plain packaging.

    Of course it's difficult to separate out effects of each element, but they are all part of an overall policy which is working to save lives and improve the health of the populace. After all, if they weren't working to change behaviour, why is there such a kerfuffle about it from the tobacco companies?

  3. Davidson has embarrassed himself. He conflates a change in market share with overall tobacco consumption. He patently doesn't understand ABS statistics and then finally attempts to say a fall in computer prices is the same as a slower rise in some cigarette prices.
    most of us learnt all about that in our first lecture on economic statistics. Says it all that no-one picked up any of the errors at Catallaxy

  4. Davidson again shows today he either simply does not understand ABS statistics or he is a natural born liar!
    Either way the fact he has a job at RMIT is a disgrace!
    No wonder our educational standards are falling

  5. Not Trampis, you really need to get a life, do you intend to play child activist all ya life?

    Monty, no boats?? Where are they?? Where is ya post update?

    Monty, Thomo was found guilty? Where is ya post update?

    I am sorry Monty, you raise a gale yet never seem to be right.

    Just here for the laughs guys :)

  6. :After all, if they weren't working to change behaviour, why is there such a kerfuffle about it from the tobacco companies?"

    Why do you think? Because people are buying cheaper brands, because illegal tobacco sales are increasing, they are losing market share and profits.

    Can you actually think, or do you have a hissy fit every time you decide to SET THINGS RIGHT :)

    Monty, where are the boats?

    Time for an update of all your failed posts :)

  7. These constant claims of rising illegal tobacco sales are remarkably evidence-free. Just another failed talking point from the paid shill tobacco brigade, throw it on the ashpile. And if you're not getting paid for running this rubbish, you look even more foolish.

  8. changing market share but declining volumes. Catallaxy clowns never could add up

  9. I am afraid we must conclude that Davidson , Ergas etal have no understanding of basic SBS statistics or they arew lying their heads off.

    no a great choice!

  10. Monty I am looking more foolish?

    This from the writer of such foolish posts like;

    Craig thomo will not be found guilty..

    The coalition will not stop the boats...

    Do revist those posts oh foolish one :)

  11. "These constant claims of rising illegal tobacco sales are remarkably evidence-free."

    The evidence is world wide, but you just ignore that foolish one :))

    Good widdle Monty :)

    How are those boats going??? LOL

  12. Do you have links for this worldwide evidence?

  13. This idiot is arguing against his argument. IF illicit sales are rising world wide and we were the first country to have plain packaging then ipso facto illicit sales have nothing to do with plain packaging.

  14. well Monty, of course I can link to studies.

    I can also link to your articles on;

    - Craig thomo will not be found guilty..

    - The coalition will not stop the boats...

    You could even update those posts, rather than running from them :)

    Not Trampis, you really need to relax, go for a walk, enjoy the wonder of this
    world we live in :)

  15. Monty, in truth, google can answer your questions, but heres the thing, if the answer does not support your view, you wont bother with it anyway.

    You will disregard it, you will belittle it, you will say its rubbish, you will ignore it.

    Its pretty simple Monty, when a packet of Cigs costs circa $25 people will for cheaper options, one of those indeed may be to quit, that is their choice, a lot wont however, its not hard, its just human nature.

  16. M0nty,
    we have our answer, he has none and has no idea he has just made his argument nonsense!
    What an idiot!

  17. Google will give you the experience from Canada & Ireland on page 1, then have a look at the USA.

    You can type not trampis, try it :)

    Not Trampis, you really are a vile human being, the hate just ooozzeeesss out of you, a closed mind, ya critical thinking skills are locked on the left and that creates a problem, you are no longer a free thinker. Its our wits that make us men, sadly you have stopped using yours.

    oh yes, have you just discovered the word "idiot"? How cute :)

  18. you have just blown apart your own argument and you stil have no idea of how you have done it.
    Well done.

  19. To be wingnut is to be intellectually lazy.

    You can post links in the comments, go on, give it a lash.

  20. intellectually lazy? Good grief, you cant use google! LOL!

    The facts are plain on this issue, but you cant go there, because the facts
    are contrary to your view and position, As such, the facts must be ignored. And you accuse me of being "intellectually lazy" :)

    I made it plain several posts above that you would ignore and studies/findings on this issue, which you have, as you wont even spend 5 seconds to google it. They dont support your view, they must be ignored. You are intellectually dishonest.

    Monty, time to revisit your posts on the boats and Thomo, but you wont, you must run from them, they simply must not exist as once again, the facts do not support your incorrect views :)

    Like not trampis, you are no longer a free thinker, as usual you jump on the bandwagon then have to run from your incorrect opinions rather than embrace them and alter your mindset :)

    I do enjoy coming here at times for the laughs :)

  21. Not Trampis, I described you perfectly in one of my previous posts, again you provide evidence to support my views, thank you :)

  22. I have already done it sunshine. You simply cannot read like you cannot provide evidence.
    hint We are the FIRST country to introduce plain packaging. This reduces price differentiation and thus makes the demand curve less inelastic.


    Now google the USA if you care too.

    But you two will ignore this evidence, you are actually silly enough to think plain packaging reduces consumption, noooo, price does, perhaps increased health awareness perhaps other issues.

    You waffle on about price differentiation whilst meanwhile in a pub in Sydney someone forks out $15 for a packet rather that say $23.

    This issue is dead and buried, Davidson and others have killed it, but no, you of course with your closed minds sit back and support a failed policy and the Kouk...

    Reality, its what we live in, with a rising cost of living people seek lternatives, and thats exactly what happens when you and your lovely nanny state to decided to intervene :)

    Read the links, there are so many more, but you wont, I know you wont, you are both fools :)

  24. The Kouk, a failed advisor to a failed government, LMAO.



  26. I am going out for the afternoon, but I will get to these links this evening. At a cursory glance, the first link is to a report prepared by a tobacco manufacturer, which is not a good start.


    MONTY THERE ARE 100'S of articles, please it does not matter who prepares the report, it only matters if it is valid.

    The link in this post is a beauty, and if I were to post USA links, we could be here forever.

  28. Canada -

    New York -

    World -

  29. Asia -

    Page 26 has AU at illit circa 11%

    Then this article from the age -

    moves it to circa 13% 2 years on from the asia study linked above whose estimates are 2012.

    Yes funded by tobacco lobby, but the circumstances exist for the growth, high prices, less disposable income..

    note the comment on page 26 - "Seizures of cigarettes in 2011/12 rose sharply from 82 million to 122 million
    cigarettes according to the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service"

    not necessarily evidence of an increase in importation of illicits, but, neither can you dismiss the possibilty that imports of illicits were/are growing. That is a significant increase in seizures..

  30. wow and all these nations have plain packaging to blame for illicit cigarettes. Wait on they don't!!

  31. not trampis, you really are a halfwit.

    cant see the woods for the trees can you, I dont give a rats about plain packaging apart from the my suggestion it has little or no impact on usage, my suggestion is also that higher prices support illegal sales or usage.

    Again, you poor bastard, you are a halfwit.

  32. imagine being so blind that you begin to fixate and miss everything happening around you, both intended and unintended.

    Start thinking not trampis, start coming up with your own ideas, stop feeding of others.

  33. just to be clear no tramis, I put plain packaging on the level of futile effort.

  34. Oh genius, plain packaging reduces price discrimination.This leads to lower price rises.
    A pity you do not understand demand curves particularly inelastic demand curves!

  35. The advent of plain packaging has seen major labels slash their prices in half to compete with no name brands. Wouldn't this go against the whole idea of chop-chop becoming more popular due to incremental excise rises? If the price differential is less than 2.5:1 then even that RMIT study says that people will ignore chop-chop. Removing brand price premiums is thus a blow against illegal tobacco.

  36. "Removing brand price premiums is thus a blow against illegal tobacco."

    But illegal tobacco sales are increasing mostly world wide, as you simply refuse to consider price and unintended consequences, its just what people do Monty.

    "Oh genius, plain packaging reduces price discrimination.This leads to lower price rises."

    LOL, followed by hefty tax increases which drive prices up, but not trampis, dont let reality get in the way of your demand curves :) Evidenced by increased illegal sales, world wide...

    Reality, you just cant ignore it :)

  37. You have no credible evidence that illegal tobacco sales are up under plain packaging. None.

    Society should not be held to ransom by the activities of criminals. Tax policy should not be dictated by black marketeers.

  38. Monty, illegal tobacco sales have increased due to price, mostly tax increases, the evidence is plain in that regard. you may choose to ignore it, but that would be intellectually dishonest.

    Society is not being held to ransom by black marketeers, in any transaction both a seller and buyer is required, they are both readily avaliable in this instance. Its price and government taxes which create the market, and its a growing market.

    See now you have altered your position - "credible evidence that illegal tobacco sales are up under plain packaging."

    As distinct from my assertion that plain packaging has had no impact on tobacco usage, it is in fact on the same level as futile gesture.

    Your comment above "These constant claims of rising illegal tobacco sales are remarkably evidence-free. Just another failed talking point from the paid shill tobacco brigade, throw it on the ashpile. And if you're not getting paid for running this rubbish, you look even more foolish."

    And again - "Do you have links for this worldwide evidence?"

    All done, all provided, all ignored, and now you alter your position, how can you do this, if plain packaging is state nanny activism then so are tax increases, if plain packaging helps reduce price, is this not offset by significant tax increases on the product.

    What happens next, more and more people seek cheaper prices, I know they do, want to guess how? Of course these movements are not reflected in total numbers are they, I would suggest that illegal tobacco users are now at about 15% and growing, its price, its discretionary income, its people being sick of the governments hand in their pockets, its what people do, and as price increases, more will do it. Its reality :)

    Disappointed in your slight of hand their, if you have convictions stand by them, if the evidence changes alter them, its what intelligent people do.

  39. you need to see what occurred in BOTH instances. do not conflate what the plain packaging was all about.
    Tax increases have been for a long time. Inelastic demand curves for cigarettes have as well. That is why tobacco producers can increase prices and also profits.

    It is very strange to see a rise in illicit sales with an inelastic demand curve.

    Plain packaging reduces price discrimination and demand for NEW smokers. old smokers still prefer their old brands.

  40. The current debate is about plain packaging. If you're trying to argue against excise increases with no reference to plain packaging, that's an entirely different argument that no one else is having, and I don't know what point you think is proven by arguing it in threads about plain packaging. Please excuse me for thinking you were engaging with the current debate, instead you're howling at the moon about something else.

    Note to self: never assume wingnuts have any notion of arguing in good faith.