Australian government report confirms standardised plain packaging works



26 February 2016.  The Australian Government has today released a comprehensive report confirming that the plain packaging of tobacco is responsible for one quarter of the decline in smoking in Australia over the last three years. [1]

The findings of the post-implementation review reflect those of the authoritative independent inquiry by Sir Cyril Chantler which concluded that it was very likely that introducing the policy in the UK as part of a comprehensive strategy would lead to “a modest but important reduction in the uptake and prevalence of smoking”. [2]

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“Big Tobacco will continue to deny it, but the Australian government report is conclusive. Putting cigarettes in standardised ‘plain’ packaging, as part of a comprehensive strategy, has led to a significant decline in smoking prevalence. From May this year the tobacco industry in the UK will also have to ditch their glitzy packaging and we look forward to reaping the benefits in years to come.”

To quote the Australian government report:

“The analysis estimated that the 2012 packaging changes resulted in a statistically significant decline in smoking prevalence [among Australians aged 14 years and over] of 0.55 percentage points over the post-implementation period, relative to what the prevalence would have been without the packaging changes. This decline accounts for approximately one quarter of the total decline in average prevalence rates observed between the 34 months prior to implementation of the measure and the 34 months following the implementation of the measure (the total decline between the two periods was estimated as being 2.2 percentage points, with average prevalence falling from 19.4% to 17.2%). The analysis concludes that, “given the ways in which the TPP Act was intended to work, the policy’s effects on overall smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption are likely to grow over time”.

ENDS

Notes and Links:

[1] Australian Government Post Implementation Review: https://ris.govspace.gov.au/2016/02/26/tobacco-plain-packaging/

[2] The UK Government commissioned the eminent pediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler to conduct a review of the public health implications of standardised packaging to inform the Government’s position. His report was published in April 2014 and regulations to implement standardised packaging in the UK were passed in Parliament in March 2015.

Further information on standardised packaging.