• Australia’s Anti-Smoking Crusade Results In More People Smoking

    Just one year after Australia passed one of the world’s most draconian anti-smoking laws, tobacco sales rose 0.5 percent after they had been falling for several years.

    From Dec. 1, 2012 on, cigarette companies in Australia were compelled to sell their products in generic dark brown packets plastered with pictures of diseased lungs and health warnings. The measure was enacted by the Labor government to discourage people from smoking.

    The law was especially targeted at teenagers and young people. The rationale being that the bright, shiny colours on cigarette packs were encouraging young people to smoke. The debate was hotly contested by the tobacco companies who unsuccessfully sued the government to keep their branding.

    But according to a Freedom of Information Act request, the number of stick cigarettes sold in Australia jumped from 2012 and 2013 by 115 million, or 0.5 percent. There was also an uptick in the sales of black market tobacco after the introduction of plain packaging.

    Illegal sales rose from 11.5 percent of the market in 2011 to 14.3 percent by mid-2014. There is also evidence to suggest that plain packaging encouraged switching from higher priced cigarettes to cheaper ones since the brand’s signal of quality is diminished.

    Plain packaging was dealt a further blow in 2014 after economists Ashok Kaul and Michael Wolf found that the new packs didn’t deter adults or teenagers from smoking. Australia has long been the top tier of the world’s most anti-smoking countries.

    In March, lawmakers in Tasmania took anti-tobacco activism to a new level with an attempt to grandfather in the full prohibition of tobacco. The proposal would see cigarettes sales banned for those born after the year 2000. Imperial Tobacco’s Australian head of corporate and legal affairs, Andrew Gregson, said the law would “merely shift tobacco demand and supply onto other channels.”

    Tasmania’s Health Minister Michael Ferguson echoed a similar view:

    Naturally, we’re following the debate with interest but at this stage the Government is not convinced that the proposal can work in practice.

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