First it was the NHS, and now - just a couple of days later - the Australian Medical Association has weighed in to pour bromide in the tea of orgasmic tobacco controllers and their wild claims about that plain packaging study.
But although the study, conducted last November and December as the plain packaging laws were being implemented, suggests smokers of cigarettes from plain packs are more likely to considering giving up, there is as yet no evidence that the change has led people to quit.
Nor, the authors admitted, were they able to “tease apart” whether it was the plain packaging itself, or larger health warnings, that may be influencing the perceptions of smokers.
As pointed out by the Crikey web news service last week, the study’s results also shed no light on whether plain packaging has been successful in one of its key goals, deterring children and adolescents from taking up smoking.
And, underlining the need for caution when assessing the effectiveness of plain packaging, the study found there were “no significant differences in the proportion of plain and branded pack smokers who thought frequently about the harms of smoking or thought smoking harms had been exaggerated”.Yes, that's THE Australian Medical Association joining a kinda global consensus. A real 'et tu, Brute' moment if ever there was one.
Incidentally, did they mention caution? The BBC health team don't know the meaning of the word.
Interestingly, the term 'encourage smokers to quit' does not appear in the study itself, nor does it feature in the Aussie government's breathless press release. Instead it refers to the BBC's own reporting of the story ... they seem to have installed themselves as some kind of expert rather than the impartial news sharers they are supposed to be.
Meanwhile, back in the real world.
“There has been no noticeable impact on legal tobacco sales in the first six months due to plain packaging, as smokers are still purchasing cigarettes just as they were before it was introduced,” BAT spokesman Scott McIntyre said in a statement.Oh dear, Australia.
On the evidence as it stands, the UK government's 'wait-and-see' decision looks to have been an inspired one, eh?