Monday 10 December 2018

More Plain Packaging Failure

No matter how many times tobacco controllers claim that plain packaging has been an overwhelming success, the facts stubbornly refuse to adhere to their fantasies. I've often amused myself with articles on this subject and it's great to see that the failure continues into its sixth year, according to Australian Channel 9.

Remember that Australia was not only the first to introduce this daft idea, but has also punished smokers with a number huge 25% increases to tobacco duty and outdoor smoking bans but with little effect. Once celebrated as offering "a vaccine against lung cancer" by an over-excitable Sydney pensioner, reality keeps butting in and pointing out that plain packaging was a laughable policy and a scandalous waste of public money.

Of course, despite treating even the tiniest positive sign as proof of plain packs success, when things go badly like this the tobacco control scam just circles its wagons ... and blames something else. On this occasion, it's apparently because there are not enough TV ads telling everyone that smoking is bad, as if the public didn't already know this. It's not like the pack doesn't tell them, now is it?

It started with more Aussie kids smoking in the wake of plain packs, but since then smoking rates have flat-lined before the Channel 9 news that more men are smoking now - or "blokes are back on the smokes" as one Aussie newspaper put it. The Daily Mail reported it succinctly too.
Recent data has shown that the campaign to reduce smoking habits of Australians over the last half a dozen years has failed as smoking rates among men actually increased in that time.  
The Daily Telegraph reported on the figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which showed smoking among young men, 25-29, had seen an increase. 
Rates among young men had risen from 17.3 per cent to 19.3 per cent between 2013 and 2016 alone.   
Smoking among older men, 40-49, also saw an increase. 
It's not working in France either, as we found out in March where it was branded a failure by one of those who championed it.

Yet despite all this we see barking mad 'studies' in health journals triumphantly speaking of not just a possible beneficial effect of plain packaging, but ...
A Global Public Health Victory for Tobacco Plain-Packaging Laws in Australia
I don't think co-author of that particular 'study' - Melanie Wakefield who campaigned for plain packaging and evaluated its effectiveness herself - found that absurd headline hard to write, if I'm honest.

It's hard to imagine any other industry which receives massive tax-funded subsidies getting away with trumpeting abject failure as a huge success, but then tobacco control is a completely unregulated Wild West of a profession, and when you have that scenario, liars are always going to float around the top of the cesspit.

So, we have a flat-lining of smoking rates in Australia - and now a rise in some demographics - where they are wielding the big stick mercilessly and where nicotine alternatives like e-cigs are banned; but a dramatic decline in the UK where smoker punishment is less draconian, and e-cigs are legal, regulated and the use of which is advertised in government stop smoking campaigns. 

Hmm, where's the Australian Sherlock Holmes to solve this impenetrable conundrum as to what is going wrong down under? 


Dr Evil said...

Popped into two pubs last night. Each had a smoker standing outside the door. Each smoker was doubled up coughing between drags. I'm talking very serious coughing here with the usual gurgling sounds. It was not a pleasant experience and must have been much worse for both of them. I feel moderation in drinking, eating and smoking are key to enjoying life. Excess bites you.

Gray Cooper said...

Plain packaging stops me voting.