Plain packaging

April 20th, 2012 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance reports at Stuff:

The government is to forge ahead with a ban on branded cigarette packets.

Cabinet has agreed ”in principle” to introduce a regime alongside Australia – but only after public consultation.

Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia announced the move this evening, calling it ”a significant to our goal of making New Zealand smokefree by 2025.”

The open display of cigarette and packs in all dairies and other shops is banned from July 23 July this year.

”Plain packaging is the next step to ensure that once they are in the hands and homes of smokers, the packs don’t promote anything other than our serious health warnings and quit messages,” Turia said.

I’m not convinced that plain packaging does much to reduce smoking rates. If having a health warning and photos of diseased organs do not put people off smoking, I don’t see how removing (for example) the Rothmans logo will have any impact.

The arguments for plain packaging are here. Having read the review of the literature, I couldn’t see anything that was near conclusive. At best it seems to be “This might make them less appealing”.

I think the most effective measure is to keep hiking the excise tax.

I also worry about the precedent value. The wowsers want to already ban all alcohol advertising and sponsorship. Is the next step then to have plain packaging for alcohol? No brands for beer!

And then you have that lethal Coke substance. Will that be next for plain packaging?

As I said, I’m in favour of sensible measures which are effective in reducing smoking rates. But I’ve yet to see any evidence that plain packaging has a significant impact, and the precedent it creates may be one we regret.

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54 Responses to “Plain packaging”

  1. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    Tobacco companies’ concern with plain packaging is less that fewer people will smoke and more that they’ll have less say in smokers purchasing their products.

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  2. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    They’re doing this in Australia too.

    Already I wait in service station queues as some impoverished addict (for that’s what they are) asks for the cheapest brand, is told they’re out of stock, then asks for the next cheapest brand, on and on… till he hits one they do have in stock, then it’s “do you have them in twenties?” “No, only forties” “Oh, well I don’t have enough then”. So he leaves with his overall health minutely improved while mine has gone downhill due to a bout of high blood pressure. If the damned things were on display he could have seen that there were no affordable options and buggered off to pick butts out of the gutter.

    Now I’m going to be further delayed while he asks “Have you got any [brand name] blues?” or “Packet of [colour and colour] please” and the shop assistant stares blankly at a row of white packets with black print.

    To think the addict is going to say “this is all too difficult then” is to have utterly no common sense, understanding of human behaviour, or knowledge of addicition. So in other words, a bureaucrat.

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  3. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Obviously they should just be labelled “CHINESE”.

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  4. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Jesus. Just ban them if they are so goddamn terrible for society. On the other hand, if they aren’t, then just leave them alone (apart from tax to help cover the cost of medical treatment if we are to continue with public healthcare). All this piecemeal crap is a waste of time and money.

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  5. Hair Removal Specialist (80 comments) says:

    Place an excise tax on cigarettes that is roughly equivalent to the health bill that arises from treating the negative health effects caused by smoking. End of story. I don’t care if someone chooses to smoke or not. It is completely their choice and in this day in age you cannot say that smokers are unaware of the negative health effects of smoking.

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  6. Dr. Strangelove (18 comments) says:

    How long until someone starts selling the packaging separately? Are they going to make it illegal to sell a branded cigarette case, with nothing in it?

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  7. big bruv (13,899 comments) says:

    Ban smoking and watch your taxes rise through the roof to cover the extra money needed to cover health care in NZ.

    The fact is that at the moment smokers subsidise every other Kiwi due to the huge amount of tax they pay.

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  8. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    This is utterly pointless. I would rather the Government moved to ban smoking in public places. Then smokers will only be able to smoke on private property. And it is time for another round of steep price increases. And they can substantially remove the duty free concession as well.

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  9. Tautaioleua (305 comments) says:

    David, taxing the life out of tobacco is also imprudent as it only adds to the burden on vulnerable communities. I know of many families where the bread and butter is second to cigarettes.

    It doesn’t matter if they’re paying fifteen or twenty for a packet, they will find away to continue funding these awful habits, and more children will go without basic necessities.

    What we have to do is demote this culture that “smoking is cool” and one way to help do this is to remove the fancy colours and pictures on all branding.

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  10. Daigotsu (458 comments) says:

    “And then you have that lethal Coke substance. Will that be next for plain packaging?”

    I don’t smoke but speaking as a regular Coke drinker the idea of plain packaging for Coke doesn’t bother me at all.

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  11. kowtow (8,485 comments) says:

    First they came for the smokers……….

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  12. backster (2,172 comments) says:

    The Maori Party has to have a few wins, this one doesn’t cost much so give it to them.

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  13. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    kowtow hits the nail on the head. the thin edge of the wedge. We are like the frog in the slowly heating pot of water. Im a non smoker but a freedom fighter. I will fight to the death to defend the rights of smokers.

    Why Because one day the Gumint and its acoylates will seize on something I enjoy and seek to either ban it or nake it hard to get.

    Its not about conspriacy. Its about history. Those who doubt read up on hisyory and you will find plenty of examples where good people sat and did nothing until it was too late.

    The anti freedom brigade are in this Gumint and every Gumint waiting and watching for their opportunity.

    You can spot them a mile off. They are thin lipped have no sense of humour and narrow eyes. They are replused by anything they dont agree with.

    They want to ban anything they dont agree with. They will come up with all sorts of reasons to ban anything they dont agree with.

    History has taught me to be very cautious and very vigilant around these people.

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  14. Pete George (23,565 comments) says:

    @RaybonKan suggested plain packaged cigarettes were healthier – maybe its because artificial colours can cause cancer.

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  15. RAS (63 comments) says:

    So much for the Nats being against the “Nanny State”…

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  16. 103PapPap (131 comments) says:

    I note that marijuana is sold in plain packets and that doesn’t seem to harm their sales!

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  17. Hair Removal Specialist (80 comments) says:

    I don’t really care about plain packaging or not and can’t see how it will make any difference with open display being banned in any event. However, the whole attitude of banning smoking just annoys me. I am with lastmanstanding on this one. If there was only one individual in this country that wanted to smoke, who are we to say that he/she shouldn’t. While smoking is clearly addictive and quitting is very difficult for some people, this is a well known and probably universal truth.

    Protecting the stupid in this world by banning something is the approach that small minded, backward looking, don’t-give-a-shit-about-other-people take. This whole thing is a waste of time and money. What is the opportunity cost of this to the government? What other laws or policies are there that could be improved for the benefit on this country?

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  18. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    “I think the most effective measure is to keep hiking the excise tax.
    As I said, I’m in favour of sensible measures which are effective in reducing smoking rates.”

    Lets do the same for Alcohol DPF. Let’s keep on hiking the exise tax.
    See how much the the chardonay socialists are willing to pay for a bottle of wine.
    While we are at it, what about a tax on sugar, salt and fat?

    Smoking has a cost but I bet alcohol has an even higher cost.

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  19. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    British American Tobacco’s own fault. They didn’t offer to build us a convention centre :)

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  20. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    This is coming from the National Party? The National Party is a fucking left wing party (nanny party) similar to the Greens.

    Not PC blog did a search on the word ban on the Greens’ website in 2005 and he came up with a frequency of 165 times. Now fast forward to 2012, he did another search again and Google returned a whopping 2,880 appearances.

    I bet that National has overtaken the Greens currently frequency. Shame on those who support the fucking leftwing National Party.

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  21. berend (1,709 comments) says:

    DPF: I think the most effective measure is to keep hiking the excise tax.

    Again hitting the poor the most, so only the rich can smoke. I’m all for controlling peoples live if you expect others to pay for your health care, but aren’t smokers already paying their fair share? They live 15 years shorter, that already should account for a lot of savings.

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  22. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    I agree with hiking the excise tax up massively on smokes.

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  23. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    “Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia announced the move this evening, calling it ”a significant to our goal of making New Zealand smokefree by 2025.”

    2025 should be about when the black market is fully flourishing.
    They haven’t been able to stop the use of illegal drugs. I cant see them stopping the use of the legal (for the moment) ones either. There are probably already synthetic tobacco products. As PapPap noted above marijuana and other drugs come in plain wrapping in a steadily growing trade.

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  24. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    I want to go after the fizzy drinks as well. They have no food value except a cheap and easy way to consume large amounts of sugar. But first we will go after the cigarettes, – hard.

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  25. Denis (65 comments) says:

    In Thailand they have pictures detailing the effects of the damages in many pictured versions on packages.
    A friend who lives in Thailand for some years complained about the gross pictures on the packs and said they should not take the enjoyment of his smoking away with disturbing pictures.

    He died two years later from lung cancer

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  26. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    taxing the life out of tobacco is also imprudent as it only adds to the burden on vulnerable communities. I know of many families where the bread and butter is second to cigarettes.

    Communities don’t buy tobacco and they therefore don’t pay tax on it. Individuals do. By choice. And those that choose tobacco ahead of food for their families are animals. The more burden they feel the better.

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  27. big bruv (13,899 comments) says:

    Toad

    “They didn’t offer to build us a convention centre”

    So the Greens would rather the tax payer fund the convention centre?

    Oh well….never mind, the centre is going ahead and the people of NZ will be better off.

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  28. Michael (909 comments) says:

    Tobacco companies will just design and virtually giveaway cigarette package holders. Helpfully branded with the type of cigarettes the smoker needs to remember to ask for.

    Almost everyone who smokes nowadays can’t claim that they didn’t know the risks of smoking when they started.

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  29. swan (665 comments) says:

    “As I said, I’m in favour of sensible measures which are effective in reducing smoking rates.”

    Well then prepare to lose the argument with the wowsers. Until people start sticking up for individual freedom, on principle, they will keep moving the status quo inch by bloody inch.

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  30. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    I don’t really care much about this law, but it’s good to see the Maori Party doing something that isn’t just a ploy to make a few iwi leaders richer. I doubt it will work, but at least they’re trying something they feel will help Maori people.

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  31. kapiti (11 comments) says:

    I read somewhere, that Cullen or whoever was the finance minister at the time, answered a question to someone who asked “why don’t you just ban tobacco tomorrow”, he answered that it’s NOT an illegal substance and cannot and then asked the questioner…”where would you cut $800 million from in lost tax?”…that’s the crux eh?…ask Maori party/hone party.. any party who is espousing banning tobacco ‘Where will you cut $800 million of lost revenue”

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  32. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    @tvb

    “I want to go after the fizzy drinks as well. They have no food value….”

    Why stop there?
    White bread, popcorn, lollies…
    Those uneducated plebs, how dare they, we’ll teach them.
    Let them eat cake….
    Oh wait.

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  33. kapiti (11 comments) says:

    PS
    That’s lost revenue in year 1. 1.6 billion year 2 and of course 2.4billion year 3. Now we all know in the long run health will improve etc etc , so what gives for Mana/Maori parties in 3yrs? 2.4 billion loss of tax!~!!

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  34. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    Will Australian tobacco products plain packaging still show that the cigarettes are manufactured in New Zealand?

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  35. nasska (11,510 comments) says:

    The anti smoking brigade, ably lead by Dear Leader, have ensured that no one in NZ could possibly not know of the dangers smoking presents. No stone has been left unturned. TV ads, newspaper ads, quit lines, nagging from health professionals even brainwashing infants into tearfully pleading for their parents to give up…..nothing has been considered too repetitive or pathos inducing not to be used.

    Thus we can now safely say that everyone has been informed & any who choose to continue to smoke do so well aware of the dangers. We could go so far as to say that it is their personal choice to spend their money & health in this way.

    Why then the anal fixation of our leaders & betters on making NZ smoke free? Probably it gives them a touchy feely sensation in their tummies to know that they are doing good work while raising taxes & simultaneously interfering in the lives of the electorate. After all smokers die early, saving a fortune in National Super. Their deaths are no more demanding of health dollars than most & they have paid for a lot of it with tobacco tax.

    If the same obsessive zeal was applied to other facets of social improvement we would be living in Nirvana inside a decade.

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  36. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    I would have thought that prior to trying to ban smoking these dicks that get elected would have first of all found a substitute way of getting the billion dollars of excise .

    But they won’ have and as BB points out, watch your direct tax rise.

    And lastly, tobacco is a brilliant means of getting our tax dollar back from the bludgers who might take it in benefits ,but put it straight back in to the coffers, bless their bludging little cotton socks.

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  37. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @big bruv 6:01 pm

    I am not even convinced that a big new convention centre is a great idea – the Government should produce a transparent economic case for that – but it seems to me that we are so far from anywhere else that we are poorly competitive as far as international conventions go.

    And if there is an economic case for one, it shouldn’t be built though a dirty “legislation for sale” deal.

    FFS, if you go down that path you invite Waha Saifiti to build the convention centre in return for allowing him to lawfully set up a meth lab and dispensary next door to it.

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  38. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    I believe Waha is still in the calaboose

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  39. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Pauleastbay 6:57 pm

    Early parole could be part of the deal too.

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  40. big bruv (13,899 comments) says:

    Toad

    So you guys would ban convention centres as well?

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  41. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    This is Nico -Nazi fascism…pure and simple. If people want to smoke they have the RIGHT to do so. This banning BS so close to ANZAC day is nauseating when one thinks of the sacrifice our war dead made to keep us free from this nannying fascist shit.

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  42. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    It’s called black market enterprise.

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  43. wiseowl (895 comments) says:

    Im with KT and Lastman on this one.
    Have a number of Checz and working for me at present.They say smokes back there are around $2 a packet.
    Just more nannystatism from Nats and those dictating to ‘our people’.

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  44. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @big bruv 7:02 pm

    Toad So you guys would ban convention centres as well?

    No.

    But the economics of conventions centres should stack up without ripping off money from and feeding the addiction of gambling addicts to support a convention centre being developed.

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  45. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Toad

    We would have no professional league or rugby or cricket without alcohol sponsorship.

    Evidently there are people out there who can drink and have a punt without it destroying their lives.

    Why should 99% of people be denied because of the 1 %?

    You can not, have never been able to and will never be able to stop a certain percentage shelf destructing ( its called human nature – and human nature is brilliant , it brings many more positives than negatives), thats what so many ,especially socailists and religious fail to realise -the goals of some mean nothing to others, no matter what good or meaningful intentions lie behind the proposed rules.

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  46. Griff (7,719 comments) says:

    Simple ban all cigarettes create a black market so the unemployed criminals can acquire wealth by illegally growing and selling tobacco. It worked with alcohol,its working with pot of course it will work with smokes.

    Fucktards
    Price it to high or ban it and face the rise of an illegal market. A far worse social consequence than a few dying early of lung cancer etc.

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  47. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    “…ripping off money from and feeding the addiction of gambling addicts….”

    Sounds like we are marching them to the casino and force them to spend their money.

    We are so lucky to have people like you that tell us what we can and can’t do with our money, what we can and can’t eat, what we are allowed to drink and how much…….
    Honestly, we (the plebs) would be totally lost without the wisdom of you and your fellow greens.
    Thank goodness for you guys.

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  48. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Dope comes in plain packaging. Some tinfoil. plenty of smokers still buy the product. Just leave the fucking smokers alone to kill themselves if they want to. It is not like they are blowing it into the faces of the do-gooders.

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  49. Raging Glory (45 comments) says:

    Smokers are heroes in my eyes. With all the tax they pay they are propping up the health system. In fact, they are patriots.

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  50. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay 7:46 pm

    I’m not suggesting banning gambling, or even pokies in particular for that matter. Just suggesting that given the correlation between the number of pokie machines and the number of problem gamblers, we shouldn’t have any more of them.

    And, unlike alcohol, pokies are deliberately designed to be addictive.

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  51. big bruv (13,899 comments) says:

    Toad

    What is it with you Gweens?

    Why is it that you guys think you know how to run our lives better than we can?

    Why don’t you just fuck off and let us do what we want? (within the bounds of the law), I don’t play the pokies but it is my right to do so if I wish, the money I may put into the machines is my own and I am not going to be told by a communist Aussie, a mad yank, a grandstanding deaf shelia (who has contributed nothing to the house in her time there) or an overweight and nasty female co-leader that I cannot do so.

    I assume that you do not see the blinding hypocrisy in your drive to control how we live, you guys want to legalise all drugs yet in the same breath want to tell us what light bulbs we can use and what we can feed our kids.

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  52. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    I don’t see why tobacco is taxed at all. Every year it saves New Zealanders hundreds of millions of dollars in superannuation and healthcare expenses.

    If more people smoked, we’d have lower taxes. Think about that!

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  53. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    “As I said, I’m in favour of sensible measures which are effective in reducing smoking rates.” – your a pawn to the anti-freedom propoganda.

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  54. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    toad – “I’m not suggesting banning gambling, or even pokies in particular for that matter. Just suggesting that given the correlation between the number of pokie machines and the number of problem gamblers, we shouldn’t have any more of them.” –

    Toad, there is also a correlation between being maori and higher crime rates – I’m just glad that people don’t apply the same extension of logic there that you do with gambling.

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