Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Tale Of Two Deceitful Campaigns

Blind health idealists in the SNP-riddled Scottish Assembly seem to be having a bit of trouble selling minimum alcohol pricing to sections of the public who - unlike them - are not insane.

March was particularly difficult when the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) - the trendiest think tank of the past year for 'progressives' - theorised that shifting cash from consumer to industry is a particularly silly approach. In the same month, Doctors taking part in a BMJ poll weighed in with their own condemnation.
Will minimum alcohol pricing reduce problem drinking?
Yes: 258 (33%)
No: 527 (67%)
The Office of Fair Trading handed out another kick in the gonads for the plan last week by filling in some detail to support the IFS opinion.
Plans to outlaw cheap alcohol will backfire, says watchdog

David Cameron's plans to outlaw cheap alcohol are likely to backfire as supermarkets will be encouraged to “sell more, not less” drink, the Office of Fair Trading has warned.

The watchdog is concerned there will be harmful “unintended consequences” if the Coalition presses ahead with plans to impose a minimum 40p price per unit of alcohol.

Its biggest concern is that shops will have an “incentive” to promote their cheapest ranges of drinks because they will benefit from higher margins on these products.

In evidence to MPs, the watchdog said supermarkets and the drinks industry would gain “additional profit for every unit of low-cost alcohol that they sell”.
In the face of such united opposition from three respected sources, Scottish politicians did the only thing they could possibly do. They ripped up the legislation put their fingers in their ears and sang a loud song.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "International evidence shows minimum pricing will reduce consumption and reduce alcohol-related harm.
So there you have it. Large profits for industry - and a higher unit price - will lead, inevitably, to a reduction in alcohol consumption."

Apparently, though, this cast-iron economic truth from those sages in the public health business seems to be reversed when it comes to tobacco.
So what can we expect locally from Big Tobacco [once plain packaging is introduced]? First, we will see dramatic price falls in the retail price of tobacco. Many will think “these [famous name brand] cigarettes are costing me $3 to $4 a pack more than cheap unknown brands in exactly the same packaging except for the small brand name. They taste pretty much the same as cheap brands, so why should I pay out all the extra?”

Tobacco companies today chase the “value market” because they know that total sales volume is steady and the margins on high-end brands is where they profit most. [...] Plain packaging strips the industry of this vital source of revenue ...
You see, the silver bullet for tobacco control is the complete opposite. Small profits for industry - and a lower unit price - will lead, inevitably, to a reduction in tobacco consumption.

Quite obviously, they cannot both be correct so at least one lobby must be lying. Yes?

Or maybe both.

Consider this. Minimum pricing proponents claim that the profits windfall their idea will bring to cheaper alcohol is irrelevant, presumably because any extra investment in marketing those brands will have no effect on consumption. The public are too clever for that.

Meanwhile, plain packaging proponents are claiming that just glimpsing a coloured packet is enough to send members of the public - especially children - into a frenzy of consumerism through their abysmal lack of willpower and self restraint. Cos we're all stupid automatons, see?

It seems that, if you work in public health, any old argument will do as long as it's backed up with enthusiastic, state-funded bullshit.


Jay said...

Yeah... someone is definitely lying. Good post. :) Thing is, most adults in the UK are drinkers. So trying to do min pricing on booze is going to piss off a large percentage of the population. And besides, we're not quite Australia yet, and in line with recent polls, the vast majority of us do not want to be nannied, like Australians clearly do...

Without going into too much detail, there is actually a difference between some of the premium brands and value for money brands, even if some consumers can't taste it. As I understand it, it's called the "blend" in the tobacco industry. A value for money machine-made cigarette will nearly always contain a greater percentage of reconstituted tobacco and leaf stems. At least with hand-rolling tobacco, you can see both of these things (if it exists) and remove them when rolling up, something that I would recommend. The blend is more complicated than just that, and there is also the type of cigarette paper that's a huge factor, but in general premium blends often do taste nicer.

Of course to get the full flavour of a cigarette, don't inhale the smoke. Instead, smoke a few puffs like you would a cigar and hold the smoke in your mouth. You should be able to taste it better. And then by doing this you can make a real comparison between premium and value for money brands.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX A Scottish Government spokesman said: "International evidence shows
minimum pricing will reduce consumption and reduce alcohol-related harm. XX

TOTAL bleeding, fucking BOLLOX! Sweden and Finland showed EXACTLY the oposite in the bloody 60s and 70s!

So where does THIS bastard get his "evidence" from?

nemesis said...

O/T but did you see this: http://www.spiked-online.com/site/article/12787/ Blackpool considering banning smoking in parks!!

timbone said...

One of the problems with this pricing idea re cigarettes in plain packs is something I have touched on previously, maybe in this blog. The anti smoking industry do not realise that what is inside the pack is affected by the packaging. To them, the never smokers who know nothing about blends, geographical factors and the smoking experience, all tobacco is the same. The expensive packaging as opposed to bog standard packaging is, to them, what makes the price difference. They do not know that a B&H contains a superior smoke to a Mayfair. They do not know that a Dunhill can be enjoyed by the same person who would balk at the taste and physical displeasure of a Sky.

Jay said...

True. I had posted a comment in this post about this very same thing - about the blend. For some reason, it has disappeared. (I think Disqus2 must have eaten it, DP... Disqus2 is really buggy on my computer.) Anyway, it's all about the quality of the blend. Cheap value for money brands contain more leaf stem and reconstituted tobacco than premium brands. It's not just that, though, the paper used makes a difference, as well as the types of tobaccos mixed in the blend.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Sorry, it got caught in Blogger's spam filter

Jay said...

Heh. That's odd. Must be a tobacco control industry tactic to mark us all as spammers then. Thanks for retrieving it. :)

Ivan_Denisovich said...

A very unconvincing piece of junk sociology that the University of Sheffield should be ashamed of. It was paid for by the DoH under a UK Labour government as a means of justifying minimum pricing by claiming that the idea is backed by "independent" research. They got the conclusion that they paid for at the expense of academic integrity. The Scottish government has subsequently wasted its taxpayers money on the further "modelling". It is all a bit flawed on many levels really.

timbone said...

I would also like to add that, in my opinion, just like food, the quality of the cigarette/tobbaco you smoke carries a safety element. There is less nutritioon and more bad bacteria in, say, a Tesco Value chicken than a top of the range roasting chicken. We have heard of friendly bacteria, maybe good quality tobacco has friendly carcinogens!!

truckerlyn said...

Have said here before that to both hubby and myself ALL brands seem to taste much the same these days and we have found none that give the taste and satisfaction they used to, hence we find we are smoking a lot more! When in Majorca in the spring we tried a pack of Winston (a brand I used to enjoy years ago) but found they tasted no different to the cheaper brand we had bought in bulk, so we also tried a pack of Marlboro and found exactly the same. We even mixed the Winston and Marlboro in a pack with the cheaper cigs and smoked them at random and unless we looked to see which brand we were smoking we couldn't tell any difference! Hubby seems to think it is down to the fact they all contain the same amount of nicotine and tar these days, but I don't see how this should affect the actual flavour. Any thoughts?