ASH Ireland responds to misinformation about the highly successful plain packaging initiative in Australia

ASH Ireland has noted a statement issued by Forest Eireann today indicating that there is a 36% increase in the number of young people smoking in Australia since the introduction of the plain packaging legislation.  This is simply untrue and a gross misrepresentation of the data published.  What the report actually says in this regard is:

“between 2010 and 2013, there appeared to be a slight rise in the proportion of people aged 12–17 and people aged 70 or older smoking daily, however this increase in daily smoking was not statistically significant and the trend for those aged 12–17 should be interpreted with caution due to a high relative standard error.

The key findings in this report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicate that: “Daily smoking among the general population declined between 2010 and 2013 and has almost halved since 1991 (from 24.3% in 1991 down to 12.8% in 2013).

  1. Smokers smoked fewer cigarettes per week in 2013 (96) compared to 2010 (111).
  2. Dependent children were far less likely to be exposed to tobacco smoke inside the home in 2013 (3.7%) compared to 1995 (31%).
  3. The majority of smokers attempted to make a change to their smoking behaviour in the last year.
  4. Smokers trying to quit or change their smoking behaviour tried mainly due to costs and concern for their health”

The report goes on to say that

“Tobacco smoking in Australia continues to decline. More specifically:

  • In 2013, 12.8% of people in Australia aged 14 or older were daily smokers, declining from 15.1% in 2010 (Figure 3.1)
  • One-quarter (24%) of the population were ex-smokers and this has remained fairly stable since 1998 when the proportion of ex-smokers first exceeded the proportion smoking daily.
  • Since 1991, the proportion of daily smokers has almost halved, and has declined to the lowest levels seen over the 22-year period. There has also been a corresponding rise in the proportion who have never smoked from 49% in 1991 to 60% in 2013.
  • The number of people smoking daily in 2013 fell by approximately 200,000 people (2.7 million in 2010 down to 2.5 million in 2013).”

Dr Ross Morgan said today “It is vitally important that all involved in the current debate on plain packaging rely on facts to support their respective positions.  The introduction of plain packaging has been an outstanding success in regard to a range of smoking related issues in Australia.  This is a vitally important health legislation which based on the Australian experience has the capacity to significantly reduce smoking prevalence in this country and specifically deglamorise the smoking pack in the eyes of young people who may be tempted to take up smoking.  The deglamorising of the tobacco pack is of course a major concern for the Tobacco Industry as any legislation which deglamorises tobacco will ultimately reduce smoking prevalence and profits within the industry”.


For contact: ASH Ireland, 0818 305055

Wally Young, Young Communications, 087 2471520

British American Tobacco whacked with £650,000 fine by HMRC for “oversupplying” Belgium cigarette market

(City A.M., November 13, 2014)


British American Tobacco (BAT) has been hit with a fine of £650,000 by HM Revenue & Customs for oversupplying cigarettes to Belgium, which has substantially lower tobacco taxes than Britain.

Apparently, that causes more low-cost cigarettes to be smuggled into the UK.

According to papers seen by the Wall Street Journal, it is the first time a big tobacco company has been fined for “oversupply of products to high-risk overseas markets”, high-risk markets being classified as those that sell cigarettes much cheaper than in the UK.

The penalty for such practises can be up to £5m. But BAT has rejected the charge of oversupplying Belgium and intends to challenge the fine in court. A pack of cigarettes in Britain will set you back £8.47, whereas in Belgium it costs £4.75, according to the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association.

The Exchequer estimates one in 10 cigarettes sold in the UK is counterfeited, and the government loses as much as £2.5bn each year to the black market. Cigarettes and their producers are seen as an easy target for chancellors seeking to raise money. It has become par for the course in Britain to expect almost every budget to include a rise in tobacco duty.

However, the high price of cigarettes in Britain combined with strong demand has proved an enticing prospect for smugglers. Many cigarette manufacturers fear the scope for black market activity may increase further as a result of the EU tobacco products directive, which will be implemented into national law by mid-2016.

The measures ban flavoured cigarettes, such as menthols, as well as certain pack types like those which contain only 10 cigarettes. In total 45 per cent of the market is set to be impacted by the tobacco products directive.

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