Calling Mr. Snowdon

Plain packaging for cigarettes could be the ‘game changer’ in seeing long-term reductions in smoking among young people, health officials have said.

Public Health England (PHE) said that the evidence for the benefits of introducing standardised packing for cigarettes and other tobacco products is now ‘irrefutable’.

In Australia, where the measure was introduced in December 2012 , there has been the fastest decline in smoking rates for over 20 years, according to PHE – an arm’s length body of the Department of Health.

They’re lying, aren’t they?

18 comments on “Calling Mr. Snowdon

  1. Well, I did say at the time that “PHE” are just another (major) branch of the new clerisy. We live under a secular equivalent of sharia, or the jewish law, in which these clerics pass judgement on every area of life, stipulating and deepening taboos, etc. This is what Progressvism is. It is an institutionalised faith. So, not in the least surprising.

    We should probably give them some funny headgear and insist on them sporting enormous beards, just so they properly look the part as well.

  2. Just two teensy weensy little problems about that article.

    The report showed that the introduction of plain packaging was accompanied by a 36% increase in smoking by 12 to 17 year-olds

    And by no stretch of the imagination is PHE and arm’s length body.

  3. When you are fighting for a righteous and worthy cause facts can be conjured out of thin air to support your argument. Didn’t you know that?

  4. “Pubic Health England” has a mandate to lie to us for our own good. Or maybe they just lie by instinct.

  5. What is their precise definition for the length of an arm? I reckon it’s about 1mm.

    I suppose they aren’t lying about the evidence being ‘irrefutable’ – can you refute something which doesn’t exist?

  6. I’m pretty sure that tobacco sales went up in Australia last year – how this corresponds to a decline I’m not sure

  7. Horrible selective use of data here. In fact there might have been an effect, but it looks unlikely – tobacco consumption has been nose diving in Australia for years. I wonder if someone should not complain to UKSA about this?

  8. Presumably PHE merely tracks the purchase of tobacco from legal suppliers?

    So the migration from legal to bootleg tobacco has eluded them, and they are just seeing the nosedive in legal purchases?

    Not measuring the unseen, innit?

  9. The Commonwealth Treasury has further advised that tobacco clearances (including excise and customs duty) fell by 3.4% in 2013 relative to 2012 when tobacco plain packaging was introduced.

    At the risk of putting words into Tim’s mouth, that 3.4% decline in duty-paid tobacco could be more than offset by an increase in smuggled untaxed tobacco. It’s much easier to manufacture fake cigarettes if they come in plain packing; and the stigma of smoking cheap fakes (amongst other smokers) is eliminated.

    Nevertheless, most surveys do point to continued gradual decline in smoking rates in Australia.

    The claim of a 36% increase in smoking in the 12-17 age range is based on one survey, and a small sample, so it may not be statistically significant.

  10. Rob: What is their precise definition for the length of an arm?

    Why not put in a FoI request?

  11. The statistic comes from a newly published survey. They’re probably referring to the proportion of people who describe themselves as daily smokers.

    The survey was conducted during the second half of 2013: similar surveys have been done every two or three years since 1991.

    There’s been a decline in the proportion of people describing themselves as daily smokers from 15.1% to 12.8% since 2010. This is the largest fall expressed as a proportion of the people previously smoking, but not the largest fall expressed as a proportion of the whole population.

    The weakness in the claim is that it ascribes the decline between 2010 and 2013 to legislation which came into effect at the end of 2012.

  12. PHE .. “arm’s length”?

    If you weren’t aware there’s been a rearrangement of bureaucratic deck chairs.

    Public ‘elf was a part of NHS – where one has to assume that busybody incompetent clinicians were shunted to get them away from patients. They ended up as a drain and a pain – so rather than simply do away with them – they’ve moved all the useless prod-nosed halfwits over to local councils (yes… you read that right!)

    Arms-length – I suspect means that PHE was constituted to tie all these a-holes nominally together and outside local gubmint control (though not funding…!!)

    My solution wrap ’em all in cling film and fly them out to Liberia / Sierra Leone and let them take a look at a proper public health crisis first hand – sorted.

  13. How do they control for the growth in vaping?

    Don’t tell me – I wouldn’t understand the answer.

  14. Andrew M wins the prize.

    Tobacco sales and tax revenue declined, but there was greater sales of low-end and discounted tobacco products and (apparently, to the extent it can be determined) an increase in “black market” ciggies.

    Complete failure. There has been a downward trend in Australia in sale of tobacco products though, but this seems to be attributed to the health and information program. Sounds better anyway – provide accurate information and let people make decisions for themselves.

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