Friday 1 February 2013

A Truth Becomes Even More Inconvenient

For a Friday chuckle, shall we have more fun with some of the tobacco control industry's finest fantasists?

You may remember I've mentioned Joy Townsend before. She is a member of ASH's editorial board despite not possessing even the most tenuous grip of basic economics.
BBC: There must be a tipping point where you are forcing poorer people to buy their cigarettes without paying duty. 
Joy Townsend: Well, it's very interesting because [...] the tobacco companies always say that. If the tax goes up, this is going to increase smuggling. And they say it, it's one of their many deceits as it's not true.
Now, you could believe she is an 'expert' in financial affairs if you like. You know, fiscal pressures on supply and how they affect buying patterns, that sort of thing. In Joy's case, she believes that price rises are irrelevant; smokers will continue to buy from the same sources ... or quit. It's really that story-book simple in her world.

Or, you could trust the Independent's business correspondent, Nick Goodway.
Two distinct messages come out of Imperial Tobacco's latest trading update. The first is that cash-strapped smokers are turning to the black market in numbers probably not seen since the Second World War.
Unlike ASH propaganda, trading updates will be pored over by market analysts for whom inaccurate information might mean the difference between millions earned and millions lost - none of that 'peer review' getting your mates to give it the once over crap. Claims from listed companies - quite the opposite of junk stats burbled by unchallenged professional anti-smokers - are tested to destruction for veracity.
According to Imps, the last few weeks have seen the proportion of cigarettes smoked in the UK which have not had any tax or duty charged on them shoot up to 20 per cent from just 16 per cent late last year. 
That means the Chancellor, George Osborne, is missing out on one in five fags smoked. The cost to the Treasury is now well above £3bn a year. He should now start worrying about the diminishing returns he is getting, having added an extra 70p on a packet through his last two Budgets.
The 16 per cent figure matches that reported by the Sun in October.

And official statistics?
HMRC data shows that tobacco duty raised £9.1bn in 2010, £9.6bn in 2011 and an estimated £9.7bn in 2012. Could 2013 be the first time total tobacco duty raised actually falls?
Err, don't those duty receipt figures - considering smoker prevalence has flatlined in those years while tobacco duty has soared like never before - show categorically that illicit trade must have increased as a result? There is, after all, no possible other conclusion even for the likes of Townsend.

In fact, so worried are the government about the increase in illicit trade - which hasn't happened according to tobacco control, remember - that they are setting up an inquiry according to The Times.
A parliamentary committee is to investigate the illicit trade in tobacco for the first time. 
The intention of the Home Affairs Select Committee to launch an inquiry into the black market comes as the world’s fourth-largest tobacco company warned yesterday that first-half adjusted operating profit would be dented by “increasing levels of illicit trade” in Europe.
Which is kinda funny when you consider this tweet.
The answer, cup cake, is that CRUK's arrant nonsense wasn't 'true' in any sense of the word, mostly because  they were using two year old figures to describe the effects of current year taxation.

Sadly, economic truth is an uncomfortable concept for tobacco controllers ... I wonder if they still believe in the tooth fairy?


Michael J. McFadden said...

Dick, I think we should offer, perhaps for the first time in recorded history, to work WITH the ASH folks in convincing the government that there's absolutely NO need to pay attention to these claims that smuggling has increased and to dismantle any current efforts to crack down on this fantasized problem. Police and government officials are obviously simply pocketing tons of tax money pretending to deal with a criminal enterprise that simply doesn't exist to any significant level.

The people selling cigarettes out of shopping bags and white vans and such are generally upright citizens, and even if they might momentarily not have the proper paperwork in their pockets, I think we can rest assured that all proper duties and taxes have been paid.

The ONLY people who claim otherwise are the Evil Tobacco Companies and the Smokers Rights Nuts, and we all know that they're simply lying.

So stop wasting the taxpayers money! Disband those arms of Customs enforcement that fritter away our hard-earned money chasing after non-existent tobacco smugglers, and let the people REJOICE!


Sam Duncan said...

I think the anti-tobacco industry knows perfectly well that smuggling is on the increase, and that's just how they like it. They're denying it's happening in case anybody does anything about it. It's all part of “denormalization”, turning smokers into a criminal underclass. Plus, by removing brand guarantees - how do you know you're getting the real thing from that bloke down the pub? - it makes smoking more dangerous. Double win for them.

In fact, if you think about it, it's the only logical conclusion. Increasing the price and introducing plain, indifferentiable, packaging... if they didn't want a black market of unscrupulous criminals to emerge - that they could then use as ammunition against holdout smokers - what would they have done differently?

prog said...

The latest nonsense suggestion that tobacco co profits should be regulated is clear evidence that they know further tax hikes will force more smokers to buy illicit tobacco. It's a no brainer - if the government overcharges its 'sales' will decline. And let's face it, with it raking in c.80% of retail cost it almost seems as if legit smokers are buying tobacco from the government.

Lou said...

Oh great, another Parliamentary Committee.

If it's anything like the one Williams chairs, it'll be nothing more than a front to carry out the express instructions of ASH. Slap a personal allowance "the same as they have in Finland".

Anyone with shares in Ryan or Easy or the ferry companies. Get ready to sell 'em quick!

And FCTC demands they do not include anyone from the tobacco companies.


Dick_Puddlecote said...

No, it's different from a APPG which is just a sponsored talking shop for MPs with a particular interest. Think chess club at school, but with brown envelopes.

A select committee is a different beast, they are televised online and independent of vested interests. Here's an ASH wonk trying to influence one in 1990.

John Davidson said...

Its falling apart guys,this movement cant stand much longer!

nisakiman said...

O/T here DP, but there seems to be a problemette with Disqus in that there is no indication of comments on the main page. I'm in the habit of popping in to check the number of comments, and if there are new ones I'll click on the post to read them, but at the mo there's no indication, and the only way to see is to go to the post and scroll down to comments. It's the same on Jay's site, too. I'm not sure if it's my browser (fairly recently updated to Firefox 18.0.1) or with Disqus, but I thought I'd let you know, and also ask if others are experiencing the same.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Can't say I've noticed it in Chrome, or Explorer at my office. But then, I get instant e-mails for every comment, which I read on my Safari iPhone.

Just writing that made me feel quite modern. ;)