The incredible success of plain packaging

Deliveries of tobacco to retailers in Australia rose slightly last year for the first time in at least five years, even after the introduction of plain packaging aimed at deterring smokers, according to industry sales figures to be released on Monday.

Australia, which in December 2012 became the first country to ban branded cigarette packs, is being closely watched for signs of success as other nations including Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom explore similar measures.

Britain last year appointed a respected paediatrician to examine whether plain packaging would reduce the health costs of smoking. The doctor’s report is expected this week.

In 2013, the first full year of plain packaging, tobacco companies sold the equivalent of 21.074 billion cigarettes in Australia, according to industry data provided by Marlboro maker Philip Morris International.

That marks a 0.3 per cent increase from 2012, and reverses four straight years of declines.

An amazingly effective policy I hope you’ll agree.

13 thoughts on “The incredible success of plain packaging”

  1. I think I’ve finally discovered what Australia has been put on this earth for: they can pilot dingbat political ideas (compulsory bike helmets, plain packaging, carbon tax, etc.) thus demonstrating to the rest of the world that they don’t work. Verily, this is a valuable service.

  2. Migration of 300,000 per year, that was a 1.3 % population increase. Plus the people that come to Australia have a higher %of smokers. We should ban migration.

    So an increase of 0.3% is actually a decrease per person of about 1%.

  3. We trialled having a Welsh bird as PM, I hope everyone was paying attention and doesn’t make the same mistake. She was sandwiched between two trials to see if incompetent, sociopathic, pathological lying, minion bullying control freaks make good PMs. Seems they don’t though they are good at killing roof insulation installers and burning houses down:

  4. Phil, there is a decrease in smoking over the previous years before the packaging ban and a continual decrease afterwards with no spike to show that the ban makes any difference. Correlation does not mean causation.

  5. … and didn’t the recent “sorting through the rubbish bins in order to identify what brand of fags were being smoked” survey discover a large upturn in the number of “illegal brand” (ie smuggled but look kosher) packets?

  6. It’s all good stuff. For years (living in Oz) I couldn’t get Gauloises. In Japan, no problem, fantastic. Lots of Japanese smoke. All the usual prohibitions in public places etc., no problem. I don’t expect non-smokers to put up with my pleasures.

    There is a teensy weensy issue though. As a nation with a much higher proportion of smokers than western nations, how come Japanese live longer on average?

  7. Bloke in Central Illinois

    Not only do Japanese live longer in general, they have a much lower rate of lung cancer than any country in the west. Despite having more smokers. Interesting, eh?

  8. Prob the green tea.

    It is about the scum of the state having and using power over us. They wouldn’t give a shit if smoking went up–that would be an excuse for more power seeking meddle—never less.

  9. Yiu cant tell about the cigarettes as a large chunk of Australia has been on fire for a while. Our town has been issued with P2 masks as a result. Though they told us there was nothing to worry about as the local open cut mine burned merrily away.

  10. So the plain packets have reduced consumption of fake/smuggled fags, thereby increasi g consumption of kosher ones.

  11. Phil, you’re comparing % increase of tobacco delivered vs population increase. Not every immigrant is a smoker, and quantity does not equal people. So no, you really don’t get to extrapolate 0.3 vs 1.3 to a decrease of 1%. F for fail.

    Not that it matters. Either way, that sort of figure is noise. Plain packaging has failed to deliver a decrease in smoking rates as claimed. Not surprisingly – what smoker doesn’t already know what brand they smoke? The only difference I’ve noticed is the poor checkout chick trying to find mine in a sea of identical packets.

    So why did the industry oppose it you ask? Because it reduced their ability to compete against each other. It never had anything to do with luring in new smokers (that happens behind the bike sheds). They hated it because it effectively locked in smokers for life. You can’t tell anything from the packet in Australia these days, especially the strength. So you don’t switch.

    Tim N, I think you have a point about the service Australia does for the rest of the world.

  12. Hey, this is just funny.

    The population increased by 1.3% last year.

    volume of tobacco products increased by 0.3%.

    that means that per person the number of ciggarettes decresed by about 1%.

    What a laugh, the tobacco comapanies and their shareholders deparately paint this as a sign that smoking has increased.

    this world is full of desperado’s.

    ha ha ha ha ha

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