Memo to Professor Simon Chapman on plain packaging

His nibs has been to cold inclement Britain to promote plain packaging. With the launch in Bristol with Liberal Democratic MP Stephen Williams, quotes in one or either terms may be inserted and his article in the Guardian. Chapman was crowing about a youth smoking, “…and young people’s smoking rates in Australia are at their lowest ever, just 2.5% of 14- to 17-year olds smoke.” So what does Australian youth for chemical stimulation? I found this site called and I quote: “The Better Health Channel was established in May 1999 by the Victorian (Australia) State Government. ”

The first part is obvious.

Reasons teenagers take drugs

Young people use drugs for similar reasons that adults do – to change how they feel because they want to feel better or different. Reasons may include:

  • Socialising with friends, peer pressure or the need to feel part of a group
  • Relaxation or fun
  • Boredom
  • Curiosity, experimentation or wanting to take risks
  • To escape from psychological or physiological pain.”
I cannot see plain packaging mentioned here.
“Drugs commonly used by teenagers

Alcohol, cannabis and tobacco are the three most commonly used drugs among young people. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey of Australians aged 14–19 years, in 2010:

  • 67 per cent had tried alcohol and just over one in five (21.1 per cent) were drinking alcohol on a weekly basis.
  • One in five (21.5 per cent) had tried cannabis.
  • Just under 12 per cent had tried tobacco and just under seven per cent smoked on a daily basis.
  • Just over two per cent had tried amphetamines for non-medical reasons.
  • 4.7 per cent had tried ecstasy.
  • 2.1 per cent had tried inhalants – such as petrol, glue and solvents.
  • 2.1 per cent had tried cocaine.

“Grog” or alcohol must be freely available in most Australian households and of course they make their own wine and beer.  Many Australian teenagers have been introduced to alcohol by their parents in a responsible way, hence so  prevalent.

But with tobacco  at 12% try rate, cannabis is at 21.5%, nearly twice as high.

If you combine ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine et al it adds up to 34.5% nearly three times as much as tobacco.

What do all these drugs have in common that’s right, plain packaging.

I think any statistician would conclude at the very worst there is no correlation between plain packaging tobacco and drug sales and it would not be unreasonable to conclude that the forbidden fruit becomes sweeter and the allure even greater for drug use.

What ever the outcome of plain packaging it seems that sales will not decline, they may even go up. So this becomes an expensive lesson in Chapman’s narcissism  and the demonisation of smokers. I also may mean that teenagers may start consuming far more dangerous substances. But hey we got plain packaging.

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11 Responses to Memo to Professor Simon Chapman on plain packaging

  1. “Dragging out the children” in the plain packaging debate is simply the sleazy abuse of our love for children in order to achieve political ends: nothing more and nothing less. It’s part of the denormalization strategy and children are simply a tool for the Antis: they’re no better than Saddam Hussein was when he “playfully” smiled and patted the heads of the little American “hostages” that he temporarily detained in Iraq at one point years ago.

    The president of the American Medical Association came out with a formal statement within some sort of major “annual report” or somesuch back in Nov. 2010 admitting that taxation wasn’t curbing tobacco use among “youth.” If the Antis were TRULY concerned about children and TRULY believed plain packaging was the key, then they should be willing to make a trade: eliminate the kid-friendly black market by eliminating tobacco taxes and then they can HAVE their plain packaging.

    Will they go for it? Of course not: caring about the children was never really their concern to begin with.

    – MJM

  2. Junican says:

    I would go further than MJM. They would not contemplate any such deal because ‘protection of children’ is NOT the objective of plain packaging. The objective is to gain control of all aspects of the cigarette packet, including its size. Regulations will require a standard size. Thus, cigarettes will have to conform to a a standard size. In subsequent years, that size can be gradually reduced. More persecution of smokers.

  3. Gary K. says:


    Don’t you know that if kids smoke they will die from preventable pre-mature deaths?

    This must be true, the antis have almost sworn it to be true.

    But; if we define a pre-mature death as one occurring before the median(50th percentile) age of death, we discover some very interesting facts.

    First, 40% of smokers’ deaths are NOT pre-mature, those deaths occur over the median age of death.

    Second, about 85% of the smokers’ pre-mature deaths are not preventable because those deaths would have occurred even if the smokers had never smoked!!!

    Most everybody dies before the age of 100 and the median age of death in America is 78.

    CDC data tells us that the median age of smokers’ death is 73.

    If we take 100 non-smokers and 100 smokers we find these facts.

    50 of the non-smokers will die before the age of 78.

    50 of the smokers will die before the age of 73 and the remaining 50 will die over the 27 years to 100. That is an average rate of 2 per year. There will be 10 smokers deaths between 73 and 78, for a total of 60 smokers dying before the age of 78 and 40 dying after the age of 78.

    Thus, 40% of the smokers will not die a pre-mature death.

    50 non-smokers will die before the age of 78 as compared to 60 smokers dying before the age of 78.

    Thus, 50/60 of the smokers’ deaths would occur had the smokers never smoked.
    That is about 85%.

    1. 40% of smokers will NOT die a pre-mature death.
    2. About 85% of the pre-mature smoker deaths are NOT preventable!!!

    There must be a way to compress this into a shorter form and I would be grateful for suggestions.

  4. Gary, I can’t find my numbers reference at the moment, but I generally describe the concept in the following way (taken largely from the Marimont/Levy research/article of a decade ago on SAMMEC):

    More than half of all “smoking related deaths” occur after age 72, with almost 20% occurring after age 85,

    As noted: I’m not sure on those numbers at the moment, so if they’re a bit off feel free to correct me.

    Something else to watch out for in this regard is the mixing up of terminology: Related, Attributable, Associated, and Caused can all be used in this area and have subtly different meanings. Anyone who dies from a heart attack can be said to have died from a “smoking-associated” disease even if they never came within a thousand yards of a tobacco seed: heart attacks ARE statistically “associated” with smoking. “Smoking-related” is a stronger term, but I think it’s usually seen as weaker than “smoking-attributable.” A “smoking-caused” death would be the strongest, and would, if properly used, give the lowest numbers. In reality it’d be hard to use it properly for much beyond fire deaths, since even lung cancer in a five pack a day smoker MIGHT have happened even if they’d never smoked.

    The Antismokers tend to use whatever will give them the highest numbers for whatever argument they’re currently using. If you added up all the “causes” of smoking (e.g. a SmokeFreeFilmzo claim that “23.7 percent of children start smoking because they see cartoon characters doing it.”) you’d end up “explaining” about 517% of youth smoking behavior.

    And if you have a 500 pound couch potato who plays video games all day while living on diet soda, vodka, and pork belly crisps and smokes an occasional pipe of Prince Albert — well, he obviously died from smoking, right?

    – MJM

    • garyk30 says:

      Lies,Damn Lies, and 400,000 smoking-related deaths

      Click to access lies.pdf

      As for terminology, when I hear/read antis spout facts/science, I feel as tho I have followed Alice thru the looking glass into a strange world.

      A world full of Humpty(anti-smoker)Dumptys that are sitting on a wall and saying: ‘When I use a word/fact, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      On the other side of the looking glass, the antis totally claim that smoking ’causes’ lung cancer.

      In the real world, CDC data here:
      Table 1 tells us that current smokers are 20.8% of the adult population.
      Table 2 tells us that current smokers account for 20.9% of the lung cancers.

      Since; in the real world, you would expect about 21% of the adult population to account for about 21% of the lung cancers, that it happens is proof of nothing special.

      Of course; on the antis side of the looking glass, all smokers will die from preventable pre-mature deaths.

      Gary K.

  5. Vince says:

    Here is yet another study that shows that images/plain packaging etc. have no effect.

    If someone in so called tobacco control were to maintain that images or explicit messages are effective,which they clearly are not,then they are guilty of causing youth smoking.(Perhaps more than the tobacco co.s as they cannot advertise in many countries and have not been able to do so for many years) Dr.Zeena Harakeh recommends that tobacco control no longer show images of young people as part of the visual cues against smoking. “Merely the image of a young smoker might well cause another young person to light up a cigarette,” says Ms. Harakeh.

    The article also states that the anti-smoking movement may be causing more harm than good and that visual cues or explicit messages are ineffective.Oddly,it at least implies that somehow visual cues that may or may not have been used by the tobacco co.s are effective.No evidence is given as to the reason these supposedly smoking related cues are in the two movies mentioned.It could be naturally occurring as tobacco use,like other things,is still part of life.Actually tobacco use would likely be more conspicuous by it’s absence in these movies.In Superman 2 the tobacco “cue” is destroyed.That would seem to anyone but them as a good thing.As for Avatar,it doesn’t matter too much what the Weaver character said.(I thought it was humorous.) Characters say all kinds of things.Suppose she’d exited her pod and said “where’s my godamned dildo”? That would still be humorous and would likely get more reaction.It also leads into that apparently the anti-smokers would have us believe that children should now have the urge to have sex with an alien on the leaf of a tree.

  6. Vince wrote, “It also leads into that apparently the anti-smokers would have us believe that children should now have the urge to have sex with an alien on the leaf of a tree.”

    Well, where did you think Antismokers came from?


  7. Vince says:

    Michael,Going by the available evidence the antismokers must be an alien species.

    1.They claim that they’re dying in vastly increasing numbers from a greatly decreasing cause.This cannot occur in humans.

    2.Most humans survive the supposed main cause of their deaths-heart attack.They apparently claim that they do not.

  8. Frank J says:

    But he’s a sociologist, he must know what he’s talking about when it comes to smoking, surely? It adds up, dunnit?

  9. Rose says:

    The pleasures of tobacco
    David Hockney’s response to Simon Chapman.

    David Hockney should stick to painting
    Professor Simon Chapman

    Simon Chapman seems to be popping up all over the place these days.

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