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Monday
Dec012014

Memo to the Prime Minister from Down Under

Today is the second anniversary of the introduction of plain packaging in Australia.

So what's the verdict?

Plain packaging isn't working says Forest

Campaigners have urged the Government to abandon plans to introduce plain packaging of tobacco.

The smokers’ group Forest which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign says the UK must learn from Australia where standardised packaging was introduced on 1st December 2012.

New evidence, says Forest, suggests plain packaging will not reduce the number of teenagers who smoke.

Instead of declining since the introduction of plain packaging, youth smoking rates have gone up. According to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, youth smoking rates have increased by 36% in the period 2010-2013.

Plain packaging has had no impact on adults either. Monthly figures for the adult (18+) smoking rate are consistent with the long-term decline of smoking in Australia. Far from accelerating that decline, says Forest, the trend for the year 2013 shows a 1.8% annual increase. (Figures courtesy Roy Morgan Research, Australia's longest-established market research company with a strong reputation for reliability and accuracy.)

Plain packaging, says Forest, is also fuelling the black market. In Australia in 2012 illicit tobacco stood at 11.5% of tobacco consumption. By mid-2014 it reached an unprecedented 14.3% share of the market, an increase of nearly 25% (KPMG, Illicit tobacco in Australia, 2014 Half Year Report, October 2014).

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "Plain packaging hasn’t worked. Youth smoking rates in Australia have gone up since it was introduced and illicit trade has soared. If alarm bells aren’t ringing in Westminster they should be.

"Standardised packaging would be a huge risk with no beneficial effect. We urge the Government to learn from Australia’s experience and abandon this ill-conceived and potentially costly measure."

Note: Official Australian Government figures from the National Drugs Strategy Household Survey show the number of 12-17 year olds smoking every day has increased from 2.5 out of 100 (2010) to 3.4 out of 100 (2013). Plain packaging was introduced on 1st December 2012.

Are you listening, Prime Minister?

PS. According to tobacco control plain packaging has been a "resounding success":

Cancer Research UK said the country’s experiment with unbranded packaging had led to falling smoking rates without creating an illegal black market.

Sarah Woolnough, the charity’s executive director of policy and information, said: "This is an anniversary worth celebrating. Australia took the lead on this issue and two years later they’re reaping the rewards.

"Smoking rates have fallen, more people than ever support standard packs and scare stories about flooding the market with cheap, illegal tobacco have failed to materialise. It’s been a resounding success in Australia and we’re confident the same can happen here.

"Research has shown that removing the colourful designs of tobacco packs reduces the appeal of smoking to children. This measure will help cut the number of people killed by smoking and we’re urging the UK government to take the next steps as soon as possible."

Needless to say one news agency saw fit to issue a report based on CRUK's comments without a single balancing fact or opinion - hence this report in the Yorkshire Post (Charity calls for plain cigarette packaging in UK ‘without delay’) and similar reports in the Irish Examiner, Herald and Metro.

Most media, including the Press Association, have ignored the story.

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Reader Comments (8)

The Yorkshire post did include this...

'Her comments come after research commissioned by the tobacco industry, and carried out by KPMG, found that the total consumption of tobacco in Australia appeared to be stable, while the level of illegal consumption of tobacco had reached record levels'

Unfortunately, the consensus seems to be that tobacco companies lie and anti-smoking charities don't.

Monday, December 1, 2014 at 11:51 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

"A tobacco-loving English blogger noticed that in the 12-17 year age group (the principal target of plain packaging legislation) the percentage of daily smokers actually rose from 2.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent.

The jubilant blogger took the trouble to construct a bold graph that emphasised this massive uplift. But he failed to tell his readers that for five of 10 data cells that made up the figures, the standard error was more than 50 per cent ("too unreliable for general use") and another two cells with lower standard errors "should be used with caution").

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-23/chapman-big-tobaccos-smoke-and-mirrors-wont-work-this-time/5613852?WT.mc_id=newsmail

Monday, December 1, 2014 at 20:56 | Unregistered CommenterJosef

Perhaps someone should advise Josef that after 4 decades of abusing science, mathematics and reason in the name of a quasi religious hate campaign against a plant, it is a little late and somewhat hypocritical of Chapman and his cronies to argue based on statistical exactitude.

I doubt that it would make much difference though. Quoting a Chapman rant is an act of faith unlikely to be performed by anyone but a true disciple.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 8:20 | Unregistered CommenterChris Oakley

CRUK by name, crook by nature. They are such a pack of liars, Simon, and you will probably recall their poll fiddling exercises of a few years ago.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 12:00 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

A smokerphobic discredits an opponent who has shown up this propaganda for what it is. Pathetic posturing at best - hate campaigning at worst. And then the troll links to the discredited neurotic Simon Chapman who's income and fat salary depends on smoker abuse, lying about tobacco companies and their customers, and removing all rights of tobacco consumers to back up his own vile prejudice. No one takes him seriously in the UK.

Shows how desperate tobacco control and its paid-for trolls are or they'd ignore us as they usually do instead of popping in to have a go on the tobacco consumers' rights blog.

#WeSmokeWeVote and unlike professional anti-smokers we don't vote Labour. The question for David Cameron is how many more millions of votes does he want to lose to UKIP?

He'd do well to remember that Australians do not have the right to vote in UK elections so they will not decide who our next PM will be - we will.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 14:01 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.' (Keats).

How can ugliness serve truth? I refer to the revolting pictures on 'plain packets'.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 20:54 | Unregistered CommenterNorman Brand

For Josef: Chapman was trying to dismiss something he didn't want anyone to notice, but he'd got his facts wrong ... again.

http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/whatever-you-do-dont-think-of-children.html

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B3h7VgKCQAACi6e.png

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 17:18 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

What a strange concept! An anti, Josef, looking at the data. The world has definitely turned upside down.

Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 13:37 | Unregistered CommenterFrank J

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