I had the fortune to bump into an employee of Japan Tobacco at my local pub recently, and conversation quickly turned to trade.
And some fascinating facts.
Here’s a couple of them:
- According to him, no display laws in Australia had lead to an increase in the number of cigarettes sold by 7%.
- Plain packaging laws in Canada had lead to a 2% increase in sales and an increase in the number of cigarettes sold.
What’s more, because packages were not on display, and people were unable to browse through looking for the cheapest pack, the established brands had benefitted at the expense of the less established brands, with more expensive cigarettes bought overall, increasing the profits of the tobacco companies.
He wasn’t sure why there had been an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked, but speculated that it was an act of rebellion – on the basis that the more people are told not to smoke, the more they do so.
I haven’t been able to corroborate the figures on the net, but it strikes me that if they were true there would be no reason to publicise them because:
- governments don’t like to admit to failure
- tobacco companies won’t want to draw attention to increased profits (unless presenting to investors)
- pharmaceutical companies that sponsor quit smoking campaigns would be quite happy at the prospect of long term future profits (from selling NRTs)
- quit smoking organisations won’t want to draw attention to counter productive policies, and as they are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies they should also see long term bonuses in funding
We also discussed the effect of taxes on black market, and he told me it was a huge problem with rolling tobacco. When recently taking a new brand of rolling tobacco round some shops, he was told there was no point in selling it – no one was going to buy it at shop price when they could get it for three quid down the pub.
Ultimately, nothing is ever going to stop us from enjoying vice – if death and torture has failed in the past, why should removing tobacco from display work now?