No joke: Australia's plain packaging law increases smoking and litter
Mindless fools. One remedy to littering could be found in mindfulness training. Awareness really does open eyes.
But, since April Fools' is all about tricks and surprise endings, here’s news that fits the bill: a quit-smoking measure has backfired on Australia, a global zealot among nations bent on legislating smoking out of existence. Underpinning the strategy was the country’s forerunning move in December 2012 to demand plain packaging for tobacco products – no more branding with fetchingly colourful logos and designs. All cigarettes were mandated into identical, drab packaging.
The latest study proves to be a mockery of the entire idea that plain packages reduce smoking, and, tangentially, litter. A recent report has debunked that premise by pointing out that smoking has increased with the advent of plain packs.
Figures released March 25 from AU tobacco companies show a rise in tobacco sales by 59 million cigarettes while black market ‘branded’ packs also flooded the market in the first year of plain packaging. Funny, tobacco sales had been on a steady downward slide before 2009 and all the attendant publicity around the government's measure. Under the new approach, black market sales climbed by 154 per cent, according to KPMG research. All the more to be littered, so a blow to the environmental keep clean movements as well.
More smuggled product is being seized by Australian Customs. Illegal tobacco seizures more than doubled to 200 million in 2012/13 from 82 million in 2010/11.
Figures from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service show illegal tobacco seizures have more than doubled between 2010/11 and 2012/13 from 82 million cigarettes to 200 million.
Two separate university studies tried but were unable to link plain packaging to deterring smoking among youth 14-17.
I bet the tobacco companies wish they could recoup all the money they expended on fighting Australia’s plain packaging laws in the first place. This April Fools' Day, Team Big Tobacco Australia is having the last laugh, if not the last cough.
And did I mention that G20 leaders have agreed to host a 2016 world summit on litter laws and solutions? April Fools'!
See the news story that inspired this blog.