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.