Thursday, June 19, 2014

Adam Creighton notes The Australian's beat up

This story's getting stale, but still, a few key features of the way some of our Tea Party Lite economists have conducted themselves need to be noted:

*   They set up a straw man to attack in the first place, carrying on (at first) as if it was self evidently "a disaster" if any short period after implementation showed a small uptick in consumption. 

Yet it was Sinclair Davidson himself who linked to a Harry Clarke/David Prentice paper that was out before plain packaging started that argued that PP may lead to people using cheaper brands, and that it was important for excise increases to offset this effect.

The ABS figures which indicate a slight increase for the first couple of quarters, then a large drop in the March 14 quarter, are entirely consistent with what Harry Clarke wrote in his paper.

Clarke and Prentice also noted (I'll paraphrase here) that the effect of PP may well be small (so you wouldn't necessarily expect to see a sudden drop in total smokers) and that it was probably going to work mainly on young people and their take up rate of smoking.   All of which indicates you would need to wait for a couple of years at least to see what effect it may have had.   (And even then, of course, there is little way of separating out the effects of the excise rise and the plain packaging.)

As with climate change denial, our Tea Party Lite economists rely on their readership not having understood the case in the first place.   

Adam Creighton in the Australian today argues about what ABS volume stats mean (and it is rather confusing, I concede.)   But whether he is right on that or not, here's where he ends up:
Despite evidence from both the tobacco industry and the ABS, the impact of plain packaging is yet to be determined after just 18 months. The measure may ultimately contribute to a real decline in smoking rates and cigarette sales.
So, what does Adam think of the headline on the front page of his paper which started all of this:

Labor's plain packaging fails as cigarette sales rise

But as Media Watch noted, this beat up of a headline ensured that Big Tobacco got big, useful headlines in England, where the policy is still under consideration.  If Creighton had any courage at all, he would specifically criticise his paper for its conduct, not just sneak this near the end of his column.

1 comment:

Not Trampis said...

John Quiggin is right!