Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Plain Packaging Arguments: Before And After

Following on from yesterday's article illustrating tobacco control's desperation to find something - anything - to con politicians into believing that plain packaging is not the clear failure that it is, and was always going to be, I thought it interesting to highlight the differences in approach before and after.

You see, here are a few examples of how those extra phone calls to quit lines in Australia have been greeted by the usual suspects. As parent of a dedicated Directioner, it seems remarkably similar to hysterical pubescent adulation of the rather ordinary and shallow to me.

So the whole exercise has been about pressuring adult smokers to quit, has it? That might be news to politicians in Ireland who are currently being bombarded with a quite different message.

So, before it's about the kiddies, but once they've got their way it's about forcing smokers to quit? Well, of course.

Just like smoking bans were about protecting bar staff until they became about bullying smokers; ditto tobacco display bans, vending machine bans and graphic warnings were all pitched as thinking of the children until the laws were passed - by any corrupt means possible - and they then miraculously became marvellous tools for beating recalcitrant smokers with a big regulatory stick.

Sadly for the tobacco control industry, the latest pitiful 'evidence' - that, gasp, some people rang a telephone number - is perfectly deflated by this Kiwi statistician.
If you look at the research paper, they found an increase peaking at about 300 calls per week and then falling off by about 14% per week. That works out to be a total of roughly 2000 extra calls attributed to the packaging change, ie, just over half a percent of all smokers in Australia, or perhaps a 10% increase in the annual Quitline volume. If the number of people actively trying to quit by methods other than Quitline also goes up by 10%, you still wouldn’t expect to see much impact on total tobacco sales after one year. 
The main selling point for the plain packaging (eg) was that it would prevent young people from starting to smoke. That’s what really needs to be evaluated, and it’s probably too early to tell.
It is, indeed, too early to tell. Which is why the UK government is correct to wait until these con artists stop screeching like baboons about irrelevant studies and instead provide something which remotely tallies with their heroic pre-legislative claims.

Still no decent evidence for risking increased counterfeit and crapping on corner shops, then. Sir Cyril, take note.


Legiron said...

The best way to get children to do something is to tell them they aren't allowed to do it. That guarantees they will do it.

What are children seeing in all this? That nonsmokers are feeble and weak and must be protected from the slightest wisp of smoke - or even steam - while smokers are seen as hard and threatening. Which will they choose to be?

The antismoking movement is either the most idiotic thing ever conceived, or the greatest tobacco marketing ploy ever conceived.

As for the images on the packs being 'shocking', have none of these Puritans seen what the average pre-teen sees on their gaming console's screen? The 'graphic images' won't even register.

Frank J said...

Ah, but Sir Cyril, bless him, is not supposed to take any of this into account, is he? Along with counterfeiting, intellectual property, trade treaties, even common law?

Actually, I'm not really that bothered by plain packs or display bans. It's the public smoking ban that angers me and I maintain that it should still be the focus of all efforts. Without the SHS crap, all else fails. Lets get a grip, here. It's the basis of it all.

Talking's over said...

Untill the TOTAL smoking ban is sorted the anti smoking gravy train will continue to seek further restrictive measures to satisfy their paymasters
and fund raisers. The disunity amongst those who yearn for liberty and choice only serves the interest of health fanatics and fellow carpet baggers.
It is obvious that there are some ,who claim to want freedom of choice,do little more than chatter from their gilded cages,mutter down hardly noticed cyber
back streets,caving in to the printed word
Time to sort out some unity of purpose,some united objective, some recruitment of the unaware,those who want to fight but dont know where.

John M said...

Of course there is no statistical link between the number of people who phone a helpline and whether they quit, but one would expect a "scientist" like Simon Chapman to draw that message out clearly wouldn't you.

As it stands, we have little evidence to show that a lot of the phone calls weren't even anti-smoking campaigners ringing in to boost the numbers. Again something a possibility that a scientist or statistician would make clear.

But then we're not dealing with people who like facts are we?

Junican said...

Damn it! There is no CHILD take-up! There never has been. CHILD take-up is a figment of the Zealot propaganda machine. A drag on a fag, deliciously enjoyed, is NOT child take-up.