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Jun 8, 2014

Move to repeal plain packaging

Social Problem: n; Something enjoyed by the multitude, as seen through the eyes of a statist who doesn’t like it. – Jim’s Dictionary
Image: CourtesyThe Australian
Some time ago it was reported here that plain packaging of tobacco products had resulted in a significant rise in counterfeit cigarettes coming in from places like China.  Predictions that this would be the case were dismissed during the passage of the bill. 
Now the very pretext for the legislation has been blown out of the water with the finding that the decline in smoking over the previous four years has come to a screaming halt.  The Australian has reported that the volume of tobacco products used in the last year has increased by 0.3%:  
… The 0.3 per cent increase, though modest, goes against a 15.6 per slide in tobacco sales over the previous four years — and undermines claims by then health minister Nicola Roxon that Australia would introduce the “world’s toughest anti-smoking laws”. 
Plain packaging laws, which came into force in December 2012, have instead boosted demand for cheaper cigarettes, with reports of a more than 50 per cent rise in the market for lower cost cigarettes. …
Now a couple of coalition backbenchers, Liberal MP Alex Hawke, and Nationals MP George­ Christensen have suggested repealing the law, oddly for the LNP on the grounds that it is nanny state legislation: 
Liberal MP Alex Hawke likened the initia­tive to other “nanny state” policies that Labor pursued, “even when it appeared they wouldn’t work”. 
“I think our policy should be evidence-based and where governments get the best bang for their buck; that is on individual responsibility, rather than big government,” Mr Hawke said. He said the tobacco policy had failed and it should “absolutely” be revisited. 
Queensland Nationals MP George­ Christensen said this week that plain packaging signalled an “inch-by-inch encroachment into our personal lives”. … 
… Greens senator Richard Di ­Natale hailed the switch to cheaper cigarettes, saying the policy had undercut the power of brands to attract younger smokers. 
Public Health Association of Australia chief executive Michael Moore said the rise in tobacco sales recorded in the study was a net decrease, when adjusted for population growth, and the few remaining smokers would be the hardest to convince.
The Public Health Association seems to be in denial if it is seriously claiming that population growth is solely responsible for the rise that it claims is a decline.  This ignores the previous 15.6% decline in the previous four years and there has been no huge increase in our numbers in the last twelve months that would account for that.
Senator Di ­Natale’s statement pretty much sums up the Greens approach of being against big tobacco companies rather than smoking.  He is actually cheering the increase in the use of counterfeit cigarettes because he doesn’t like Phillip Morris.
Don’t expect the coalition to act on this anytime soon.  Most LNP members are probably Googling ‘social responsibility’ and staring incredulously at the answer and wondering how such a concept could come into being.

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