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Tobacco demands becoming price elastic?

I always told my economics students that while retailers often did not know the elasticity of demand for their products – how sensitive demands are to prices – they could easily infer this information by experimenting with price variations. If prices are increased a bit and firm revenues from a product fall then demands are […]

Plain packaging (repost from Blogger)

Ireland has followed Australia in introducing plain packaging of cigarettes. David Prentice and I gave an interview on the Australian experience and its implications for such countries in The World Customs Organisation News, February 2015, Vol 76, pages 62-64. This type of work David and I did on plain packaging won’t get prestigious academic awards […]

Plain packaging policies and poor journalism

Henry Ergas is at it again! He follows the stable of extreme right commentators at The Australian (Judith Sloan, Sinclair Davidson, Christian Kerr, Adam Creighton) attacking the plain packaging legislation and providing support for big tobacco. The campaign seems timed to influence the adoption of plain packaging in the UK. It is of course exactly […]

Fact check on plain packaging

Claims by paid consulting firms for a firm producing cancer-causing tobacco products that “plain packaging” have failed are wrong. The evidence they produce is inconclusive in statistical terms. Other evidence suggests there have been negative effects on consumption levels and participation in smoking. The problem with the argument of London Economics is that they do […]

Support for plain packaging

Julia Gillard writes a strong and clear defence of the Australian plain packaging legislation for cigarettes. She is right – it will cost the Australian Government millions to defend this legislation against attacks from the carcinogen producers and their allies in the IPA (copyright protection, free trade etc) but these millions are a gift to […]

Promoting lower taxes & encouraging cigarette brand differentiation

The libertarians are citing a Daily Telegraph article that claims to show that high taxes and plain packaging are increasing tobacco consumption and the size of the illegal tobacco market. The basis of this newspaper report is, in turn, a KPMG report written for the tobacco companies. KPMG are trying to demonstrate that tobacco producers […]

Libertarians promoting smoker rights

Over at Australia’s premier lunacy blog Ratchel Conner from the Smoker’s Rights Party is arguing for lower excises on cigarettes, abolishing plain packaging and abolishing restrictions on smoking in private premises. Her argument is that smokers should pay no more than the non-internalised health costs they impose (wrong if you are a Pigouvian), that plain […]

Specific taxes would outperform ad valorem taxes on cigarettes in China

I wrote a paper on cigarette smoking (with Bao Jia Tan) while at BEDA in Beijing in 2010 – here is a pre-print. While in China this time I have tried to argue the point with Chinese students that there was a strong case for increasing tobacco taxes in China and that this tax should […]

Tobacco in Australia

An excellent source of information on “Tobacco in Australia” is the website, with that title, that I have added to my blogroll under the heading “Science”. DP points out to me that one chapter deals with the “plain packaging” legislation – including a reference to a paper written by DP and myself. Worth a look […]

Plain packaging – take a look

One of the ludicrous complaints about the so called “plain packaging” rules on cigarettes it that they make it harder to select a sought-after brand in a shop. That can only be true if the shop-assistant is illiterate. The brand and brand variety is indicated clearly on the front as well as top and base […]

Phillip Morris’s wrong apology

Phillip Morris have apologised to the Czechs for presenting, as a business case in favour of smoking, that a financial benefit from smoking is that it kills people early thereby saving the state money on health care and pensions. Of course they should not have apologised for this since the claim is definitely true – […]

Carcinogen retailers wail

In a study funded by Phillip Morris our friendly neighbourhood carcinogen retailers are wailing that their business has been adversely affected by the plain packaging laws on cigarettes. It takes them longer to serve customers and they give customers the wrong brand more frequently. They didn’t even get a chance to lobby for subsidies to […]

What will kill our kids

I have acquired something of a reputation as the economist who is obsessed with the harm of tobacco products. “There he goes again….” There might be an element of truth to this but maybe, because it reflects a reality, it is a relatively healthy obsession. I’ve been reading a report by the OECD (2012) on […]

Time to permanently extinguish fags

One of my less universally popular posts was the suggestion to only supply addictive cigarette products via pharmacies on the basis of medical prescriptions that depended on patients having significant cotinine levels in their urine. This proposal would eliminate cigarette consumption by the time the current generation of smokers expires since only nicotine addicts would […]

Plain packaging case success

I am travelling in Asia but was delighted to read here that the legal carcinogen producers have lost their bid to show that the plain packaging legislation breaches the Australian constitution – these included carcinogen producers supplying the Australian market and one targeting Japanese citizens. It is big news even in the country I am […]

Secondary tobacco smoke on university campuses

Walking across the LaTrobe University campus is a health hazard – particularly in the central Agora area* – because smokers inflict damaging consequences of their nicotine addiction habit on non-smokers by breathing cigarette smoke over them. It is not being prissy or faking an excessive concern – the US Surgeon General showed that no level […]

Podcast on plain packaging.

Here is a podcast I gave on the plain packaging issue.

Here is a new quality report on this issue.

Some recent smoking trends in Australia

Some of the best data in Australia on the tobacco industry is expensive to purchase and mainly intended for use by the industry itself. It is obviously of interest for those concerned with reducing cigarette smoking. Cigarettes are, by far, the biggest component of tobacco use in Australia – their retail sales in 2010 were […]

Plain packaging podcast

An excellent, balanced account of the implications of plain packaging by Euromonitor’s Don Hedley The PP legislation a frontal assault on the decades of familiarity consumers have developed with particular brands. An attack on the culture of smoking that will fall heavily on major brands. An interesting point I had not picked up is that […]

Will plain packaging reduce cigarette smoking?

In this paper I wrote with David Prentice we say yes though it is difficult to say by how much because there have been no previous trials of this policy device. The policy is however essentially a tightening of opportunities to market cigarettes. We therefore use the industrial organisation literature and evidence from two previous […]