Monday, 24 June 2013

What A Tangled Web They Weave ...

In recent years, the tax leeches in the bloated tobacco control industry have employed a tactic of busting what they term as 'myths' prior whichever rent-seeking legislation they are endorsing at any particular time.

I can't understand why because it simply sets themselves up for humiliation when their daft claims - based on confident assertions rooted in cod science and fantasy - are routinely shown up to be fanciful nonsense.

ASH's "myths and realities of smokefree England" about the smoking ban, for example, will be regarded by future historians as particularly interesting seeing as just about all of their myths have since been proven to be true.

Likewise, I've had a hell of a lot of fun rubbishing Big Control's "Myth #7" in relation to plain packaging of fags - I've lost count of how many times, in fact. That isn't to big these pages up or anything - I mean, it really hasn't been that difficult. If an organisation tries to claim that tobacco interventions won't be copied by prohibitionists opposed to alcohol, fast food, fizzy drinks, and even eating meat, they may as well jump in the barrel themselves and hand us a gun.

Handily, these hilarious "myths" are left online so that we can look back and tick them off one by one as the debunkings are inevitably shown up to be the products of over-active state-funded imaginations.

The latest - from the same document as "Myth #7" - is "Myth #3".
Myth #3: Plain packs will cause confusion and extra costs for small businesses
FACT: It’s no more difficult selling plain packs than branded packs. Industry estimates that it would take 45 seconds longer per sale are based on a survey of the opinions of just 6 tobacco retailers. Objective research measuring over 5,000 transactions found that plain packs if anything reduced transaction times and selection errors (this was hilarious junk science as discussed here - DP). Retail sales will decline gradually but not overnight as the main impact will be on reducing uptake amongst young people not on current smokers, so shops will have time to adapt.
Hmm, that's interesting. Because, you see, Simon Chapman is revelling in the fact that his pet idea has - indeed - made it more difficult to sell plain packs than branded packs. That it is designed specifically to do just that.

So confused is global tobacco control with its web of lies over plain packaging that we have British anti-smokers saying retailers won't be affected unduly, while their Aussie counterpart is celebrating the 'fact' that they are suffering badly after only a few months.

Even as someone who is used to seeing these so-called myths turn into accurate predictions, I never thought I'd see the day when a fellow tobacco controller does the job for us!

Or should I say 'part of the job', because Angela Harbutt at Hands Off Our Packs has found something interesting about Chapman's latest display of childlike ignorance.
There is no mention of any loss of sales of tobacco as a result of plain packaging. None whatsoever. The reference surely refers to the increased administrative and staff costs of the plain packaging legislation, something the AACS has already been very public about.
Oh, really?
But then I had a wild idea that I might email the AACS direct, asking them to confirm what they meant. It was surprisingly easy to get a reply. This is what they told me:
In summary, plain packaging has adversely affected retailers in terms of costs (staff training, layouts, lost productivity), time to serve customers as well as receive stock as examples, but sales over the past six months remain unaffected.

Some anti tobacco campaigners will use any quotes to their advantage without understanding their true meaning or context and I need to ensure that I am as clear as possible in my communications, but rest assured retailers have been far more inconvenienced than smokers with the change, although smokers have been frustrated with slower service and incorrect products being given to them.
Yes, really.

It's a double slam dunk. Chapman reveals that the point of plain packaging - contrary to sleazy schmoozing by the UK Smokefree Action Coalition - is indeed to significantly harm retailers. Meanwhile, Aussie corner stores - contrary to the claims of Chapman and plain packaging advocates in this country - confirm that their costs have risen as a result of the law, so much so that they are forced to seek out other revenue streams to compensate because they haven't had "time to adapt".

Probably the reason why so very many UK stores objected strongly to plain packaging despite being vilified for it by Big Control.

Do go read the whole Hands Off Our Packs piece, if only to laugh at how shoddily self-proclaimed tobacco control messiah Chapman does his research.

1 comment:

Michael J. McFadden said...

I'd missed your April 2012 debunking of the plain packs study Dick. BEAUTIFULLY done! No wonder they like to hide their research from people. That being said, it's not universal. Some (Chapman's Marita Hefler stands out in recent memory) get quite snooty once they realize that you might actually criticize their work. Some simply refuse to respond. Some hide behind the pay wall and say they don't discuss research they've already done (Just had an exchange like that with a Dr. Schmucker who'd determined that STEMI heart attacks went down in NONsmokers after a ban. Of course it took emails to find out that they'd conveniently lumped new quitters in as nonsmokers so the decrease probably had far more to do with quitting smoking than the claimed "OH, look at how it protected the nonsmokers!"

When I pointedly asked why they'd set it up like that I was simply told that they had "sufficient reasons" for doing so and a refusal to discuss those "specific (secret) reasons." Of course I didn't need to be told what they were: it was obvious: it gave the results that the granting agency wanted... thereby guaranteeing the researchers more research grants in the future.