Thursday, 21 May 2015

Down Under Desperation

It's now common knowledge that tobacco controllers lie as a matter of course, but they're getting extraordinarily desperate in Australia.

At the weekend, a public health group in New South Wales joined industry, economists and politicians in recognising that Australia is suffering a recent growing problem with illicit tobacco (emphases mine).
NSW Health has told a review of tobacco laws that its inspectors have detected increased sales of illicit tobacco, which is packaged without health warnings and is sometimes blatantly labelled "illegal tobacco". 
Despite the emerging problem, the health department's powers extend only to photographing and taking samples of illegal tobacco, and inspectors are unable to seize the products. It called for laws to be strengthened.
And yesterday, Australian customs chiefs said that they "recognise this problem".
Figures reveal a huge increase in the importation of ­illegal cigarettes and “chop chop” tobacco via sea and air over the past year. 
The chief executive of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Roman Quaed­vlieg, said authorities were now contending with “more players” in the black market, with increasing numbers of criminals attracted to the ­lucrative business. 
“We recognise this problem,” Mr Quaedvlieg said. “It is a priority and we are dealing with it."
This is all hardly surprising given the pressures that anti-smoking lunatics have heaped on the legal market. A country the size of Australia has porous borders simply because it is so darn big and impossible to enforce, and when your pack of Marlboro is 10 times more expensive than the same product in a neighbouring state while also being riddled with gory anti-smoker wet dreams, the entirely predictable result is a legal industry jockeying for market share with organised crime.

Yet Australian tobacco controllers are still laughably trying to pretend it's not happening. And doing so very badly.

In March, a KPMG report entitled Illicit Tobacco in Australia was released which revealed that the black market had ballooned to 14.5% of all tobacco smoked in the country. But in an article in the Tobacco Control Journal which couldn't have been more badly timed if they tried - published as it was on the same weekend that the left of centre Sydney Morning Herald admitted that illicit tobacco in Australia is a major problem in not one, but two articles - resident tobacco control junk scientists from Cancer Council Victoria attempted to contest this, specifically with reference to plain packaging.

The first thing to make you laugh about their study - which, incidentally, they have presented to the world as "independent" despite the authors being world-renowned anti-smoking professionals - is that they are claiming it is more rigorous than the one conducted by KPMG.

The KPMG study involved the collection of 12,000 discarded cigarette packs across 16 different towns and cities covering 75% of the population. Additionally, the company is recognised as a world expert at this kind of survey with the OECD describing their methodology as “the most authoritative assessment of the level of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes across EU member states” . By contrast, the Tobacco Control study authors are career tobacco control chancers whose only goal is to 'prove' that policies they have badgered the Australian government for are not having the negative consequences that everyone else but them is seeing.

As for their methods, in any other public health sphere self-reported evidence by consumers is ridiculed and lambasted as unreliable. This is particularly problematic when dealing with the issue of illegal tobacco, I mean if someone called you at home and asked if you were participating in an illegal activity, what would you say?

Yet the Tobacco Control study relied solely on this dodgy data. It was merely a telephone survey of 8,679 smokers which covers a far inferior proportion of the population to the KPMG one. It is therefore remarkable that the study authors actually call into question the validity of the methodology used by KPMG in their analysis of the same issue. Specifically the authors’ state “packs discarded in public places are likely to provide a poor representation of the universe of all packs used by smokers”, yet they seem to believe that a telephone survey - complete with all the baggage that self-reported data carries - provides a more accurate representation! These people are well beyond delusional.

And there's more.

If you were a tobacco control shyster and wanted to put together a smokescreen to pretend that plain packaging hadn't increased the illicit market, how would you go about it? Well, one way would be to make sure you studied something which was irrelevant to the country you were studying. For example, it has been established that in Australia a fake illegal brand called Manchester cigarettes has managed to grab 1.4% market share amongst tobacco consumers. These types of products are classified as "cheap whites" which the Guardian describes as "cigarettes that are created by organised crime gangs and have no legitimate market anywhere". So an Australian tobacco controller would obviously prefer to study "cheap whites" which are not common in Australia, thus diluting the size of the problem and making it easier to ignore the volume of the increased illicit trade. Did they do this? Of course they did!

The way they chose to label a brand as a "cheap white" was to use the brands mentioned by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in their 2012 report. These included Jin Ling, made in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova; and Racquel which is made in Cyprus. Now, call this a hunch, but I don't reckon that many packs of those illegal brands make it from Europe to the sandpit on the other side of the globe, do you? Manchester brand however - the "cheap white" most prevalent in Australia - was conveniently not mentioned in the WCO report. Fancy that!

Hang around, because there's more.

Even with all those shenanigans going on, there was still some statistical mendacity to perform before they could pretend that illicit tobacco wasn't on the rise. They did this by misrepresenting the data in the results section of the study. They considered that a measure of what would be classed as smuggled factory made (FM) cigarettes would be "where the reported price paid was 20% or more below the recommended retail price" and came to this conclusion (emphases again mine).
'The prevalence of international brands of FM cigarettes purchased in Australia for 20% or more below the RRP was low in all phases (under 0.5%, unadjusted) and did not increase between pre-PP and PP, nor linearly during PP'.
Very good, except the actual data showed something quite different.

The number on the left is the prevalence of those reporting suspiciously priced brands and the number next to it is the odds ratio (the likelihood of using a suspiciously priced brand). So, what the data states is that the likelihood of someone declaring that they were smoking a suspiciously-priced cigarette doubled after the implementation of plain packaging. I wonder why they chose not to mention such a thing? It's almost as if their livelihoods depended on it.

Other tables came to the same conclusion, oddly enough.

As whitewashes go, you've got to admit it's a piss poor one. But this is the best the Australian tobacco control lie machine can muster. As the scale of illegal tobacco in Australia becomes ever more clear to politicians, the media, industry, border agencies, the public and even public health groups, the anti-smoking community are now isolated as the only people who refuse to admit the truth. It's truly desperate stuff.

Next stop Britain when plain packaging is installed in 2016 with our free borders and massed ranks of criminal enterprises just across the Channel. I simply cannot wait to see what balderdash our own tobacco control fantasists will come up with to explain away the predictable carnage. On past performance, it promises to be hilarious.


bakerb said...

Well..I'm sure that now that Crapman has retired he'll be making a nice little earner working as consultant for UK 'hey...look over there' strategies.

Jack Listerio said...

Even in America by 1927 the prohibitionists were recognizing the mass folly they had created. The country was wetter than it had ever been before and even women were coming out smoking as much as men in the new illicit nitelife offered all over the country.
The St Valentines day massacre was the nail that finally spelled the end for prohibition and everybody pretty much saw it coming.
But it wasn't just that mass killing,it was the graft and bribery going on. The costs of enforcement and the loss of federal alcohol taxes all becoming fat profits for the king pins in crime.
Today those profits are going to organized crime,terrorist groups and many others. Grant buying of formerly honored medical universities and public health depts. have been destroyed besides just taken over.
Oh theres more damage to come as we will all see but the beginning of the end is here we should all be able to agree on now,even if arnott and other snakes continue to spout their BS...........They too will soon have to admit its all been a dismal failure. People are openly defying bans pretty much everywhere these days as we read in the papers of anti-tobacco activists trying to get action on enforcement thru op ed pieces and opinion pieces around the globe.

jude said...

Tobacco control research = stick fingers in ears, shut eyes and shout lalalalalalalalalala loudly until truth goes away.

tick tock..........

Jack Listerio said...

Smoking on campus remains problematic
Oregon State University has ashtrays installed on the edges of campus to prevent smoking on university property. But at several spots around campus, ...

Jack Listerio said...

Colleges being forced to go smokefree by Obama Administration

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced an initiative to ban smoking from college campuses last month. This is part of the HHS goal to create a society free of tobacco-related disease and death, according to their action plan released by the HHS in 2010.

Colleges who fail to enact campus-wide smoking bans and other tobacco-free policies may soon face the loss of grants and contracts from the HHS, according to the plan. Western receives grants through a subdivision of the HHS called the National Institutes of Health, Acting Vice Provost for Research Kathleen Kitto said.

Obama administration to push for eliminating smoking on college campuses

Read more: ... z29zJ2V2TV

Jack Listerio said...

It doesn't take to much to see who is pushing the bans in America OBAMA AND COMPANY

Jack Listerio said...

‘The ban won’t stop me’: People already flouting 12 month smoking ban in Martin Place
SMOKERS have told the City of Sydney to butt out of their affairs by disregarding a trial smoking ban in Martin Place.

Jack Listerio said...

Is the Government Buying Science or Support? A Framework Analysis of Federal Funding-induced Biases

By David E. Wojick and Patrick J. Michaels

April 30, 2015

The purpose of this report is to provide a framework for doing research on the problem of bias in science, especially bias induced by Federal funding of research. In recent years the issue of bias in science has come under increasing scrutiny, including within

Vinny Gracchus said...

Outdoor smoking bans are draconian and dehumanize smokers. They are not about health they are about social control--specifically about oppressing a minority and driving soccer division. Reject smoking bans!

Vinny Gracchus said...

The tobacco control cult should recognize the growth of illicit tobacco markets--their policies stimulated the growth of organized tobacco crime. Plain packages created the market opportunities. Prohibition always has benefited racketeers. It's a shame puritans can't learn the lessons from their past follies! Repeal plain packaging!

bakerb said...

Its great to see it failing and I don't even much like the smell of cigs anymore

Blazeaway said...

Lancashire seems to be seeking the crown of one of the maddest antsmoking places in the UK - councillors have wholly bought into the mad notion of preventing smoking in parks:

Jack Listerio said...

Patients ‘ignore’ Bristol Southmead Hospital smoking ban

BBC News

“Patients and visitors at a Bristol hospital are routinely ignoring a site-wide smoking ban, its chief executive has said.

Andrea Young said there was a “particular problem” around Southmead Hospital’s main entrance, despite staff challenging smokers.

About half put out their cigarettes when challenged, she said, but others responded in a “less positive” way.

A task force is assessing if an off-site smoking shelter can be provided.

Southmead Hospital in north Bristol is a designated smoke-free site, but one woman, whose husband receives regular oxygen treatment for a chronic lung condition, told BBC Radio Bristol she had to wave away clouds of smoke when they attend his regular appointments.

Ms Young, chief executive of North Bristol NHS Trust, told said it was often difficult for staff to challenge patients or visitors who may already be under a lot of stress.

“We have just re-established our task force to look at smoking because we need to revisit the decision about whether we should have a smoking space for patients and their families,” she said.

“Because of the nature of the things we do in our hospital, some of the trauma cases, for some people, it seems to be very very difficult for them not to have a cigarette.

“What we are doing is reviewing whether we should have a smoking shelter somewhere off the site.”