Thursday 25 October 2012

Sod Basic Economics When There's A Public To Mislead

Simon Chapman, a man whose sharp tongue never quite hides his blunt mind, tweeted this witty put-down the other day.

Sadly for the Jurassic berk, it isn't actually true at all.

He was referring to this page from Cancer Research UK (ASH carried something similar the day before).
Rates of tobacco smuggling into the UK have fallen despite earlier claims from the tobacco industry that tax rises would prompt an increase in the illicit trade, official figures show
An estimated nine per cent of cigarettes consumed in the UK in 2010/11 were illicit, compared with 11 per cent in the previous year, according to HM Revenue & Customs.
I think you can see the problem there, can't you? Yes, the figures are almost two years out of date.

Since then, we have had two budgets. In 2011, duty was raised by 50p per pack and earlier this year, by a further 37p per pack.
Robin Hewings, Cancer Research UK's tobacco policy manager, commented: "The tobacco industry claims that cigarette smuggling is 'booming', 'set to grow' and that the UK is becoming the European 'hotspot'."
It looks like they were entirely correct, because the latest figures - you know, not two year old ones - show exactly that.
THE trade in illicit cigarettes has exploded in the past year - with nearly 16.5 per cent of all fags now fake or counterfeit. 
Shock figures last night revealed the black market rise - and piled pressure on to ministers. The proportion of “illicit” cigarettes smoked in the UK has soared by almost a FIFTH over the last 12 months, up from 13.8 to 16.4 per cent.
That looks like confirmation that the illicit market was 'set to grow' and that it is now 'booming', wouldn't you agree?

The UK is, indeed, becoming a European 'hotspot', as the Tobacco Retailers Alliance - whose link was provided by Hewings - stated just over a week ago.

It probably explains why no newspapers picked up on this demonstrable tobacco control industry bullshit. You see, they were fully aware of the up-to-date figures and weren't conned by vested interest fanatics using old stats to rubbish more recent statements which happen to be true.

ASH and CRUK's economic illiteracy - that is, to ridiculously state that hikes in duty don't lead to increased avoidance - is even more cretinous when cross-referenced with the Taylor Report. This was commissioned by the previous government in 1999 but, strangely, only released in July.

It's pretty unambiguous.
"The principal cause of the smuggling, of course, is the high level of duty in the UK."
Well, duh!

So, shall we just file this - like others where these morons exhibit their stupidity - in the ever-burgeoning folder labelled "tobacco control talking utter bollocks"?


Jay said...

I would like to add that the rate of duty on hand-rolling tobacco as increased enormously these past two years, far greater than machine-made cigs, no thanks to ASH and CRUK campaigning for it.

Two years ago, we paid roughly £12 per 50g pouch of Golden Virginia (and mind, in 2005 it was around £8 or a little less than that). Now, the cheapest we see is about £16.50, with some places selling for a pound more than that.

Of course, we've stopped buying UK duty products out of necessity and anger.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Interesting you should say that. The HMRC figures ASH and CRUK refer to state that smuggled hand-rolling was 38% in 2010/11, and 45% overall if you include cross-border shopping.

Taking last two budgets into account, it's probable that non-duty paid (in the UK anyway) hand-rolling tobacco now accounts for over 50% of all in the country. That's an incredible failure of government if there is more baccy in circulation which hasn't benefited the treasury than baccy that has.

Jay said...

Agreed, it is an incredible failures by our idiotic government. But those HMRC figures are estimates, and when you read the actual doc (I think it I blogged it once, or I meant to), then you learn that a) they really have no idea how much licit and illicit tobacco products are in the country, and b) the high-end estimate of HRT is 65%. Truth is, it could be even higher -- nobody really knows the extent of it.

All of this is why the WHO, ASH, CRUK, and the APPG are demanding an end to cross-border shopping for tobacco products in Europe. Furthermore, they truly do want to see the illicit trade increase so they can lobby for those restrictions on cross-border shoppers. Once fags are done for, they will move on to booze.

By the way, I note that Ailsa Rutter, the little prohibitionist firecracker, re-tweeted a thing about minimum pricing from Balance NE today, along with other TCI people like Kate (Knight?) Andy Lloyd:

west2 said...

What they seem to be trying to do is wean HMG off the revenue from tobacco taxes. They (TCI) may well continue to call for increases in tax. The side effect is the increase in illicit use.

They may continue to mix-up counterfeit and legal to give the impression that the cross border trade is just in illegal cigarettes. The way to stop the counterfeiters is to stop cross border trade.

They may say this would only affect a small minority of users and save HMG billions. They may also say that avoiding UK tax (hot topic) is not 'fair'. Of course this is all hogwash.
The economic issues involved are not supply & demand but control.The health issues involved are not keep fit but control.

c777 said...

Prohibida su venta a menores de 18 anos.
Las autoridadessanitarias advierten.
Written on a tobacco pouch.

Or to us tax saving Brits.

Guajira Guantanamera
Guajira Guantanamera


Vive la révolution!

Or as we say in good 'ole blighty.

Shove your tax up your arse.

ivandenisovich said...

Nice to know that CRUK fund a Tobacco Policy Manager. Is that as well as a Jean King who the last time I looked was Tobacco Control Director and Deborah Arnott? That represents quite a lot of dosh diverted from cancer research to people who clearly have issues with truth and reality.

Legiron said...

autoridadessanitarias - the Autoriders of Sanity. I wrote of them once, long ago.

This message from them means 'It is prohibited to vent a madras through 18 anuses' and that's important advice.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I well remember the autoriders of sanity, it was one of your best early pieces. You should dredge it up and republish sometime. :)

JonathanBagley said...

Dick, are all these figures from the same source? Are they for all tobacco or just cigarettes. Do they all include counterfeit and smuggled? The Sun gives an increase from 13.8 to 16.4, presumably 2010/11 to 2011/12. CRUK gives 9.0 for 2010/2011.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I'm presuming they are quarterly figures as they mention "in the last 12 months". So illicit must have started flying once Osborne announced the 50p hike in 2011 budget.

ASH and CRUK quote 9% which is the mid range of just smuggled, but with cross border too, it was 12%. Either way, the figures are on a sharp upward trajectory.

Legiron said...

All the old Livejournal stuff is now in the Wordpress blog. It didn't get the comments to carry over, unfortunately.