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Nanny State

You can’t plain package the facts

Plain-packaging

new paper by Ashok Kail and Michael Wolf clearly demonstrates that there is an “absence of any plain packaging effect” on the sale of tobacco. For Nanny Staters, it isn’t pretty reading.

As the graph to the right shows, the introduction of Nicola Roxon’s plain packaging laws had no statistically significant effect on the sale of tobacco in Australia.

I wasn’t in the room when they wrote the policy, but I don’t think this the outcome they were hoping for.

This is the second blow for the policy’s supporters this week. On Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that sales of cigarettes to retailers had risen slightly last year, the first full year of plain packaging.

In 2013, the first full year of plain packaging, tobacco companies sold the equivalent of 21.074 billion cigarettes in Australia, according to industry data provided by Marlboro maker Philip Morris International.

That marks a 0.3 per cent increase from 2012, and reverses four straight years of declines.

Four straight years of decline comes to an end. But why?

“When you commoditise a product, people go after the price,” said Eoin Dardis, director of corporate affairs for Philip Morris in Britain.

“If people are buying cheaper stuff, maybe they’re smoking more of it, I don’t know … It’s definitely a point of interest and that’s something that absolutely needs to be explored because that’s the counter of what this policy was seeking to achieve.”

So now that it’s clear that the policy is an absolute failure, I will wait patiently at my desk for Nicola Roxon’s public apology.

First person charged under Queensland’s out of control party laws

The first person has been charged under Queensland’s out of control party legislation after a Townsville party devolved into a brawl:

The 17 year old man was charged after 17 police units (31 officers) were required to quell a disturbance at Gulliver on Saturday night.

Senior Sergeant Graeme Paterson says when police arrived at the Parsons Street address about 100 people were in the street.

“There was fighting occurring out on the street, there were bottles being thrown around, there was broken glass around the area, the initial police crew required the assistance of many other police crews,” he said.

One police officer had a full can of alcohol thrown at her, police charged other party goers with liquor, drug and wilful damage offences.

Of course, fighting, throwing things at police, drug use and property damage are already illegal. Even being drunk in public is a crime in Queensland.

What’s new about the out of control party legislation is that it places sanctions on the host of the party, blaming them for the criminal acts of their guests.

The party had been registered with the police, as it was required to be, and was only intended to have forty attendees. Despite this, the 17 year old is liable for a $12,100 fine or one year’s jail.

As I wrote in the Drum as these laws were being considered in November last year:

Defending his out-of-control parties bill, the Queensland Police Minister has argued that “the majority of people who do the right thing have nothing to fear”. Well, that’s not the way the bill is written. Not if the letter of the law is enforced. No free society should rest their liberties on the discretion of the agents of the state.

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