The Australian's claim on tobacco goes up in smoke

Fri, 06 Jun 2014  |  

The Australian is at it again. It is running another fact-less story with the express intent of undermining a key policy of the previous Labor government and what is disconcerting this time, is that it is pushing the line of the tobacco industry.

Today there is a Page One story by Christian Kerr which makes the sensational claim that "Labor's nanny state push to kill off the country's addiction to cigarettes with plain packaging has backfired, with new sales figures showing tobacco consumption growing during the first full year of the new laws".

The "exclusive" story based on "new data obtained by The Australian" claims that "tobacco sales volumes increased by 59 million 'sticks' ... last year". The source of this shock finding is "industry monitor" InfoView which is "backed up by retailers, consumer marketers and the industry". Only Philip Morris and the Australasian Associates of Convenience Stores are cited.

Fortunately, the story is wrong.

Consumption of tobacco and cigarettes is falling and has fallen sharply since the plain packaging rules were implemented in December 2012.

Just this week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the national accounts and buried in those accounts is a measure of the volume of household consumption of cigarettes and tobacco.

The figures from the ABS show that total consumption of tobacco and cigarettes in the March quarter 2014 is the lowest ever recorded – and this with the series starting in 1959. This is extraordinary. It is a Great Depression for tobacco sales.

Making this record low consumption of tobacco all the more fantastic is that the fact that the consumption numbers are not adjusted for population growth which, by definition, means per capita consumption of tobacco and cigarettes is also at a record low.

Making a mockery of The Australian's story is the fact that, in seasonally adjusted volume terms, consumption of tobacco is 5.3 per cent lower in the March quarter 2014 than in the December quarter 2012 when the plain packaging laws were introduced.

It seems like The Australian is pushing, in a high profile front page story, baseless information fed to it from pressure groups with a vested interest to sell more tobacco and cigarettes. With sales cascading, there are looking for any pressure to change the rules that are obviously working to reduce tobacco consumption.

And just to round out a few more facts on the wonderful success of the anti-smoking campaign over the past few decades, the overall consumption of cigarettes has fallen 51 per cent since the mid 1980s, a time when Australia's population has risen by just under 50 per cent. Wow! 

This is good news indeed, despite the tripe and flotsam dished up, yet again, in the Australian.

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The real reason young Aussies are struggling to get on the property ladder

Fri, 21 Oct 2016

This article first appeared on the Yahoo 7 website at this link: 


The real reason young Aussies are struggling to get on the property ladder

I thought kids stopped screaming and being blindingly selfish when they turned 3 or maybe 4. I was wrong. It could be that 30 is the new 3.

Having witnessed, first hand, some of the froth and bubble surrounding the issue of consumption patterns of millennials, that they prefer spending money on lattes and smashed avocado on toast rather than a dwelling, there is an irrational, self centered discussion that blames anyone and everyone for their inability to get into the housing market.

If Twitter and some of media articles are anything to go by, a bevvy of millennials have explicitly expressed their overwhelming desire to spend their money on avocado, ubers, the latest phones and travel rather than saving to buy a house. I have noted, ad nauseam, that this is fair enough – it’s their money, spending it whichever way floats your boat is a fundamental tenet of economics. It is all part of that basic choice we all have about where we wish to spend our money.

Rather than leaving it there, the millennial group then unrelentingly complain about their perceived in ability to tap into the housing market. This is incongruous given they have just said they are no longer looking to buy a house. Why would anyone care about the price of a Brett Whitely painting, for example, when you aren’t looking to buy one? But the millennials are vocal about their insistence of unapologetically wanting to spend their money on lattes, pulled pork and a mascarpone pancake stack whilst still moaning about their inability to buy a house.

It’s this juxtaposition that leaves me wondering what the fuss is about.

Why poor Aussie financial literacy is to blame for banks overselling their financial products

Mon, 10 Oct 2016

This article first appeared on the Yahoo7 website at this link: 


Why poor Aussie financial literacy is to blame for banks overselling their financial products

Watching the parliamentary appearances of the Big Four Bank CEO’s this week revealed many things, but one that was most striking was the implied weakness in financial literacy of the general population who it seems often sign up to expensive services they don’t understand, didn’t ask for and don’t need.

It is all very well to criticise the banks for urging their staff to be overly aggressive when cross-selling different products to their customers, but it is another for the customer to succumb to this pressure and sign up for the new products. Rather the customers offered new products should give a friendly “thanks, but no thanks” reply when the sales pitch from the bank teller comes along.