Sunday 16 April 2017

An Outbreak Of Truth On The ASH Twitter Feed

Unless the cleaners got hold of ASH's Twitter feed on Good Friday or something, was this a fleeting glimpse of real life intruding on the fantasy economics they usually try to present to the world?

Indeed it has, as the article they link to describes.
THE numbers have reached a staggering level. For every two cigarettes smoked in Malaysia, one is an illicit cigarette. 
In other words, the share of the cigarette black market has reached 57.1 per cent as at December 2016, based on Nielsen Cigarette Study 2016.
By Christ! How could this sorry state of affairs have happened?
Right now, illicit cigarettes are priced between 17 and 25 sen per stick at the retail level. 
This compares with 85 sen per stick for legitimate cigarettes. This includes the excise rate of 40 sen per stick. 
No wonder the industry volume for legitimate cigarettes has been on a sharp decline. Last year, the volume fell 25 per cent to just eight billion sticks from 2015, much less than the number of illicit cigarettes.
Perhaps that is the part - about tobacco companies not selling as many legal cigarettes - which attracted ASH's attention, I dunno. It's true to say that the richly-funded tobacco control Goliath's emphasis has long since become a crusade against industry rather than having anything to do with health, so that would fit very nicely.

Except it's not the whole story (emphases mine).
One worrying effect is that the number of smokers is on the rise, not on the decline
Seven out of 10 youths are buying illegal products, according to the Health Ministry. 
According to the Health Ministry’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2011, the number of smokers in Malaysia was 4.75 million. 
Subsequently, the ministry’s National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2015 – Reports on Smoking Status among Malaysian Adults reported that the number of smokers increased to five million. 
However, cigarette prices during the same period increased by an average of more than 30 per cent. If cigarette price increases really do have a correlation with smoking cessation, the percentage of smokers would have dropped.
Blimey! Do they mean that applying excise to cigarettes to an extortionate degree inevitably leads to a burgeoning black market? But ASH have always said this is nonsense, a figment of the tobacco industry's imagination in fact!

Still, I suppose in Malaysia there could be a partial solution to this 'problem' with the advent of risk reduction products like e-cigs, couldn't there? Yeah, well kinda.
Looking at the treatment of vaping in Malaysia is like entering a frightening 1984 world of doublespeak. The Deputy Education Minister is quoted as saying: “We must go to schools. And parents must be aware that e-cigs and vape are no different from tobacco products… We must ‘de-normalise’ smoking.” 
And as if vape replacing smoking wasn’t denormalising smoking to begin with, the paper repeats the hysterical calls from the Association of Adolescent Health: “[We] urged the Health Ministry to take aggressive steps to protect our youth from the harmful effects of using e-cigs or vape, by implementing a complete ban on the manufacturing, distribution and marketing, of the devices.”
So, faced with too many Malaysians smoking, both young and old, the response from the country's government - which apparently doesn't like the prevalence of smoking though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise from their daft policies - is to ramp up tobacco taxes to ridiculous levels and stamp hard with a steel toe-capped Doc Marten boot on any potential alternative.

Now, considering ASH are the most vocal organisation in the UK for punishing the poor by demanding eye-watering tobacco tax rises; were frenzied in their support for the EU's TPD which puts huge concrete blocks in front of vaping as an alternative; admitted they don't give a shit about collateral damage; and have been utterly silent as vape ban after vape ban is introduced in the UK, I suppose we should find it refreshing that they are tweeting about articles proving their approach is irresponsible and not even remotely to do with health.

And if they are going to choose a weekend on which to repent on Twitter, admit their sins, and illustrate why their policies are counter-productive, self-serving, mendacious and retarded, the Easter one is as good as any.

Meanwhile, it looks like we here are still firmly on the side of the angels because, for years, we have been warning that price prohibition and over-regulation will have this effect. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, huh?

H/T @d4nno_

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