Sunday, 21 July 2013

Still No Evidence, Then

Do you remember, back in April 2012, the slogan for the Smokefree South West plain packs campaign that the government spent £468,000 on?

No, well here's a reminder.

There are other examples here and here

In case you can't quite make it out, it says:
"Support plain packaging and protect our children"
Cancer Research UK ran a similar campaign, with an almost identical tagline, complete with video featuring lots and lots of ickle kids.
"Support the campaign to protect children from tobacco marketing"
This was emphasised further on its campaign page (now removed).
"It doesn’t matter if you’re a smoker or not, this campaign isn’t about telling people to quit, it’s about stopping the next generation from starting in the first place."
Stephen Williams MP was certain about the reason for the policy.
"I was pleased to help launch Europe's first major campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of glitzy tobacco packaging to children"
As was Fiona Andrews of Smokefree South West.
"Smoking is an epidemic that affects children and moving tobacco products into standardised, plain packaging is designed to protect them; it is not about current smokers."
Andy Lloyd of Fresh NE went further.
"Plain packaging is not about stopping existing smokers but everything to do with protecting children"
As did Stewart Brock of NHS Somerset.
"Smokers start as children and continue as adults. Smoking is an epidemic that affects children and moving tobacco products into standardised, plain packaging is designed to protect them and is not about current smokers."
Hmm. Do you reckon their message to government was that it is about stopping kids smoking and not about bullying current smokers? It looks mighty like it, huh?

Yet Twitter is abuzz today about amazing new 'evidence' from Australia.
The early indication is that plain packaging is associated with lower smoking appeal, more support for the policy and more urgency to quit among adult smokers.
Err, I thought it wasn't about adult smokers?
536 cigarette smokers with a usual brand, of whom 72.3% were smoking from a plain pack and 27.7% were smoking from a branded pack.
And wasn't it about stopping people starting? Not about current smokers? I could have sworn that's what they said.

Any kids? Well, no! The study doesn't mention the words 'child', 'children' or 'kids' at all.

So perhaps those plain packs campaign slogans - although not as appealing to the public and MPs they were designed to con - would have been more honest if they'd said:
"Support plain packaging to harass smokers and make them think their fags taste shit"
But then, when have tobacco controllers ever been honest?

Meanwhile, in the real world, the most salient aspect is completely ignored by prohibitionist charlatans.
I spoke to a number of retailers to give me some open and honest feedback on what’s happened in the last five months.  
The most telling comment from retailers was that customers are actually starting to trade down. Now the average price of a pack of cigarettes in Australia is about 17 dollars.There are obviously cheaper brands available. So when the brand image goes out of the product and it becomes a commodity, people are saying ‘why should I pay 17 dollars when i can pay 12 or 13 dollars? Nobody’s going to judge me in terms of what brand I’m smoking – I might as well smoke the cheaper brand.’
Especially if - as the tobacco control industry has been rejoicing in today - there is lesser appeal to the unbranded premium packs which carry more profit.
So what’s happened is that people are trading down and actual unit sales are up. People are buying more cigarettes more frequently.
You'd think that would be more of a concern, wouldn't you? You know, if they are remotely interested in health rather than blinkered ideology, that is.

Good grief.


V Hale said...

From the asiantrader link - "Lady Deborah Arnott"?
Since when?

Josef K said...

There does appear to be a great deal of vaseline in use, these days.

By protected adults, obviously.

Kids would only touch vaseline if it smelt of bubblegum, as we know.

moonrakin said...

SFSW = peculating scum with no redeeming features at all.

moonrakin said...

SFSW - the sort of outfit that gives peculation a bad name ...

Junican said...

A simple conclusion.
Years ago, the anti-smokers who were genuinely concerned put their faith in the propagandists. These charlatans saw a wonderful way to make themselves fortunes. They have taken over, and shoved the naive do-gooders out of the way. "BIG PHARM RULES, OK?"

PJHH said...

It's all bollocks and spin. From the conclusions:

were more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day in the past week (AdjOR=1.81, p=0.013) (emphasis mine)

Note that no-one actually gave up - merely thought about it, because if they had in significant numbers you can be damn sure they'd have mentioned it.

I've thought about being a multi-millionaire numerous times the in the past. That's not going to increase the minuscule chance that I will be one in the future.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

You're quite right IMO, hence why there is still no evidence of success for plain packs however much they claim it to be. That's without factoring in the downsides that the tobacco control industry have always ignored, and which will be ignored in this case too without a shadow of a doubt.

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moonrakin said...

I'm suspecting that there are two tribes in tobacco control - the zealots and the carrion.

The carrion : So many of these public "elf" professionals are truly appalling - no relevant medical experience etc... A quick scan of their cvs shows too many of them to be opportunistic overpaid BS artist frauds with a nose for a job beyond accountability. £1500 a week + exes + (nice German) lease car - nauseating.