Herald on plain packaging

April 28th, 2012 at 11:15 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

The Government has been persuaded to follow Australia’s decision requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packs.

The theory seems to be that if all brands are forced into the same style of packet – perhaps a dirty light brown, dominated by health alerts and grisly pictures, the manufacturer identified in small type of a standard font – smoking will lose much of its remaining appeal. This must be the insult to trump them all.

companies maintain plain packs will do nothing to reduce smoking and it is hard to disagree. Their business is not one of those that has to compete on artificial brand distinctions with a necessarily identical product. Smokers discern different blends and so long as they can find their preferred brand they are unlikely to care about the packet.

Social science claims to have found that cigarette packaging has some effect on younger people.

A recently published paper was based on group discussions and interviews with young smokers and non-smokers when they were shown plain white packs with prominent health warnings. They offered observations such as: “It looks so boring”, “it’s just budget … it’s like, lame”. Research of that sort insults everyone’s intelligence.

I’ve blogged on this myself. The research is far far from convincing.

Plain packs seem unlikely to bring the anti-smoking campaign much closer to its goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025. That goal, endorsed by the Government, could require much more drastic steps, especially in taxation.

A working paper produced in the Ministry of Health is said to suggest raising the cost of cigarettes to $100 a pack in order to reach the target.

The Maori Party seems particularly determined on the issue. With 44 per cent of Maori still smoking, more than twice the proportion overall, the party makes no apology for tax increases that hit the poor hardest.

A 12 per cent excise increase in 2010 is reckoned to have lowered tobacco sales by 10 per cent over the following year. Price is clearly the weapon that works, the only feature of a cigarette packet that counts.

If the cost needs to reach $100 a pack, and they are currently around $20, then they need to go up $80 a pack over 13 years, so an increase of around $5/year.

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41 Responses to “Herald on plain packaging”

  1. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    Another shock price increase would be better. Say 25% and then a further 12.5% the following year etc etc. the goal being $50/packet by 2020 and remove the duty free concession.

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  2. SalParadise (54 comments) says:

    Just watching Tboxed Backbenchers and Jan Logie has made some good points regarding smokers and identifying with a particular brand.

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  3. wat dabney (3,769 comments) says:

    Next it will be alcohol.

    Your beer, wine and spirits will become still more expensive and will only be sold in plain bottles (plain, that is, except for explicit and repulsive pictures of human decay.)

    That will be your night out in this neo-prohibitionist nirvana: no smoking allowed, and a bar of sickening graphic state propaganda.

    Welcome to Turia World.

    Because you’ll have seen the recent reports of the vile thug Turia saying she’ll do “whatever it takes” to enforce prohibition and stop people smoking. We are the property of the state, you see.

    At this time of year we traditionally stop to consider that NZ fought a world war against people such as Turia: the thugs and the bullies of the world who subvert the state to enforce their blinkered views on everyone else.

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  4. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    It might be that once cigarettes reached $100/packet there would be few smokers left, but there will be a great many children suffering on that journey as parents redirect spending to feed their addiction.

    There will also be an extremely lucrative black market for tobacco. Which will, of course, be controlled by gangs.

    A laudable aim, but a very, very bad tactic to try and achieve it

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  5. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    I’ll say it again: if smoking is so bloody terrible, then ban it outright. Stop pissing around with all these working papers and piecemeal innovations to reduce smoking. Just ban it. Simple. Finished.

    BUT: if it’s not really all that bad, then how about just live and let live? Go to a private health insurance system and let smokers fight it out with their insurance companies, and simply keep existing laws about smoking in public buildings. Or if we are going to keep our current healthcare system, work out roughly how much is needed for treatment of smoking-related diseases and tax cigarettes by enough to cover that.

    I’m sick of all this moralizing when it is a pretty simple issue – either smoking is legal or it isn’t.

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  6. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Meanwhile of course pot will become the smoke of choice among societies poor! :)

    I thought pollies were meant to be the creme de la creme of societies thinkers?

    Fuckwits to a man (woman/bi/trans)! :)

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  7. Than (473 comments) says:

    $100 a pack is well above the means of low income (i.e. most) smokers, so it would have a similar effect to an outright ban. In other words it would just create a new black market for the gangs to profit from.

    But the battle against smoking has already been won. Smoking is seen as uncool, smoking rates are dropping, uptake rates are dropping even faster. There is no need for extreme measures to meet some arbitrary “smokefree NZ” date, just keep the current measures going and let the filthy habit fade away at its own pace.

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  8. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    You can’t make smoking illegal because then it will become insanely lucrative, and you will have thousands of tonnes of cigarettes being transported to NZ inside gutted fish from Indonesia.

    Keeping it legal but increasing the price on it will force people to reach their max reservation price on cigarettes as a commodity. Everyone has a price ceiling in their mind. Only the true addicts/fuckwits who don’t care will keep buying and smoking. They will be dying off as the price keeps increasing.

    There will still be gangs selling cigarettes for less but at least it wont be as lucrative as an illegal policy.

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  9. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    These fuckers make me wanna take up smoking.

    Funny how it’s ok to inflict costs on the poor when it’s something the left believe in.

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  10. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    “let the filthy habit fade ”

    I can remember the little white signs on the lamp posts in Wellington that said “No Spitting” —– “5 pounds fine”

    Seems to be vice of choice now by Rugby/League/Cricket players!

    Means you’re a “Real Man” ! :)

    Pot smokers do it a lot too. Just saying! :)

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  11. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    UpandComer,

    No argument with the economics behind that. But to take Than’s point, $100 has the same effect as a ban, so the gangs selling ciggies would be as lucrative as under an outright ban.

    And what is your advice to the children who don’t appreciate their parents’ max reservation price (which is, quite likely, at their expense)?

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  12. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    “tonnes of cigarettes being transported to NZ inside gutted fish from Indonesia.”

    :)

    They will be sold (under the counter) as “Ladyfags” :)

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  13. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    A shock increase in alcOboil duty would be great. I would also like to see a large excise tax on sugar. That woils have the added bonus Of dealing with alcopops.

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  14. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    ban ban ban ban ban ban ban ban

    to the tune of the Batman theme

    This thread sounds like it should be on the Greens’ site.

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  15. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    smokers cost the health service millions of dollars a year .. smokers dies years, maybe decades earlier than non-smokers saving millions of dollars a year in pensions and yes, millions on health services including old folk homes costs to the taxpayer.
    If someone wants to smoke then that’s their choice.
    Now, these banning types piss me off and they have already targeted booze as mentioned above .. they can piss off and mind their own business

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  16. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    Cigarette companies in Australia are being made out by the Gillard Labour government to be ‘evil’.However, if you look at the facts in Aust/NZ in the last 20yrs you will find that they are actually good corporate citizens.They have not been advertising for 20yrs, nor do they give away cigs or other items to promote smoking, and they don’t have their company sales reps personaly ‘over doing it’ in the public eye when they are out selling cigaretts to retailers.In other words, cig companies have been following all the rules, laws and regulations that government has set out for them.

    So why then would any government -least of all a senseable one such as ours- be introducing plain packaging if smokers have been ‘buying cigarettes under their own esteem and without ANY OTHER influence for 20yrs ?’ It clearly won’t work because lack of advertising and promotion for 20yrs hasn’t worked.

    This is simply about the government ‘seeming’ to do something at the beheast of a loud and unthinking minority.

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  17. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    slijmbal .. would be better to the Two and a half Men theme song

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  18. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Drunken, smokers really are an asset to society. Dying long before their allotted time.

    If they eat a lot of meat and exceed the speed limit regularly, even more so.

    They should all get a major tax cut compared to the fit, vegetarian, goody goods, IMHO! :)

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  19. andretti (130 comments) says:

    Typical socialists thinking they can control the world and everybody in it.I dont smoke never have and dont much enjoy the company of people who do,but I will defend their right to smoke to the end.If the do gooders get their way on this issue wait for what they will do next.They can FRO.

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  20. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    I think if the really desperate smokers neglect their kids hopefully the kids will be taken off them sooner then might have been the case, which is probably for the best. Smokers probably do save everyone money in the end. I’m comfortable with the current state of smoking. It’s pretty rare for me to have to deal with second hand smoke. Just think the policy is the best way to end it if you wanted to.

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  21. cows4me (248 comments) says:

    Fuck the Nazis, how can a government order a cig company to package it’s product in plain packaging, it’s an invasion of property rights. Following the logic of these fanatics why not make sweet manufacturers put lollies in plain packaging after all sugar is now “evil”. Cig companies have the right to display their cancer sticks, taking this right away is unlawful but I guess we can expect this from this weak kneed, liberal, pussy outfit this crowd has become. Ban the fucking things out right or get out of the way of an legitimate business. I trier from government that continually treats me like a little child unable to work out for myself what is good or bad.Why do we have to continually suffer under these so called do gooding fucktards.

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  22. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Time your filthy, heart attack producing milk had some skull and crossbones logos on it cows4me!! :)

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  23. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    It seems bizarrely optimistic to think that hiding tobacco products in large shops could make any significant dent in what is essentially a drug addiction. By that logic there would be no heroin addicts.

    If the health secretary [UK] had been inclined to swap grandiose statements with inquisition, he may have come across some interesting facts. Lansley may have learned, for example, that smoking is intrinsically linked to social class. According to a report published by Nice, smoking is the primary reason for the gap in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor. A 1998 report called The Health Trap stated: “It may as well be said now that if you are a poorly-educated lone parent living in council accommodation and receiving income support, as so many lone parents are, then your chances of being a smoker are over 80%.” And not only can those who smoke the most afford it the least, but they pass the habit on to their children. A 2005 study by the University of Washington found that parental behaviour is the single biggest factor in determining whether children become frequent smokers or not.
    So smoking isn’t simply the result of seeing some pretty packaging or wanting to impress your peers. For the majority of smokers, it’s linked to social circumstances; circumstances that repeat themselves over and over again, from generation to generation.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/06/why-people-smoke-andrew-lansley

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  24. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Quand vous êtes “BOLD” mon coeur saute un battement Yvette! :)

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  25. Andrei (2,657 comments) says:

    God save us all from zealots.

    Especially ones in power who can use their influence to screw the poor out of their humble pleasures in life by raising taxes to send a price signal.

    And what socialistic Government (like the current National government could ever resist a tax hike) more revenue for them to misspend on plastic wakas and other crap

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  26. cows4me (248 comments) says:

    Johnboy, your’ve been reading to many of Philu’s posts :-)

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  27. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    The bloody amazing thing is that the “poor” vote for the socialist, leftie, elite pricks Andrei.

    The stupid bastards are too thick to realise they would be far better off under a right wing capitalist regime! :)

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  28. Fox (206 comments) says:

    I bet gangs in this country are already licking their lips at the prospect of $100 per packet. Just imagine the incredible amounts of money they’ll be able to make with illegal importation and trading.

    And then even if they do get caught with a large shipment of ciggies, what’s the worst they can be hit with? ‘Evasion of Excise Duties’, leading to a $1000 fine and 20 hours of community service? Hahaha…..hardly a deterrent…..

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  29. Andrei (2,657 comments) says:

    They would indeed be better off “a right wing capitalist regime!” Johnboy – but thanks to MMP that is not an option, we get socialist wacko Labour or moderately less socialist National to choose from.

    They are cut from the same cloth, as the fact that we are even discussing this piece of obtrusive nanny stateism goes to attest.

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  30. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Not to mention the poor bloody Dairy owners who will pay with their lives for the stupidity of the ruling elite Fox!

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  31. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    The Maori Party seems particularly determined on the issue. With 44 per cent of Maori still smoking, more than twice the proportion overall, the party makes no apology for tax increases that hit the poor hardest.

    So why not the Maori Party call a rahui against tobacco products
    – a rahui being a form of tapu restricting access to, or use of, an area or resource by unauthorised persons.
    Maybe the reasons are –
    – there is really no one with the mana to call a rahui
    – there are no true Maori to obey a rahui
    – tikanga [general behaviour guidelines for daily life and interaction in Māori culture] actually has no real practical use in modern society – hakas and weaving and souvenir shit is OK, but not what a rahui would reflect, because
    – some may respect a rahui, but the number who wouldn’t could reveal truths Maori don’t want to know [just as a similar challenge to Christianity would leave it fucked too]

    so no rahui … [oh, well]
    back to slowly putting the price of a packet of fags up to $100 and getting children clothed
    and feed at school … where the responsibility is …

    Là, Johnboy, mais vous n’avez pas une crise cardiaque :-)
    Ni bereal, qui pense que je n’ai pas le sens de l’humour

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  32. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Perhaps we should offer the Murris the income from all tobacco sales in NZ as absolute and final payment for all Treaty claims for all eternity!

    Oh the decisions that would have to be made! :)

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  33. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Obtenez à puits bientôt mon amour. :)

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  34. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    No, Johnboy, they would invest it in John Banks, new CEO of SKY CITY CASINO, and lose the lot
    but –

    “tonnes of cigarettes being transported to NZ inside gutted fish from Indonesia.”
    I bet gangs in this country are already licking their lips at the prospect of $100 per packet.

    No –
    Petone will be like a fucking warzone – it will look like a scene out of Terminator
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/business/6635460/Tobacco-deal-creates-50-jobs-in-Petone

    As New Zealand aims to be fagfree by 2025 we gear up to export them to Aussie in a special ANZAC gesture greater than that of Jock Anderson

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  35. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    “As New Zealand aims to be fagfree by 2025 we gear up to export them to Aussie”

    The Labour team are emigrating to Oz? Hooray! :)

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  36. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    That must be the case Johnboy, because we certain won’t be smoke free by 2025, if we have just increased tobacco products output by at least 3 billion cigarettes a year.
    Perhaps no one told Turianna or Hone about that.

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  37. V (720 comments) says:

    Lets call it for what it really is social pseudoscience.

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  38. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    It is ironic that those two racist leaders of the maori party want to ban smoking when they are both rather fat. Heart disease costs the health system more and causes more deaths amongst maoris… good to see the jolly poly(tician)s leading by example.

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  39. nzd.gbp (130 comments) says:

    Grow your own and smoke a pipe, or are we going to pay the police to scour the country looking for tobacco plants too?
    Just fuck off you control freaks. We don’t need you to protect us from temptation. Who gave you the right? Seriously, go find a country where you can go around pretending that people need you, where you can protect them from themselves and they will never leave your ample bosom, the wee little dears. Grow up and look after yourself. Leave home.

    I’m going to start a religion where smoking is mandatory.

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  40. willtruth (243 comments) says:

    If cigarette companies don’t think that plain packs will reduce smoking, why are they opposing plain packs?

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  41. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Well FWIW this leftie non-smoker thinks the tobacco packaging and taxation business is just bullshit.

    If there was ANY sort of balance to the whole thing, then by rights the bottle of cab merlot I drank on saturday should have had a plain label with health warnings and photos of deformed babies on it. And about $10 of “thou shalt not!” tax added to the price…

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