Australia: Economic Threats

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Hiding Behind a Libertarian Cloak and Warning About Job Losses

A report for Action on Smoking and Health Australia, which examined the tobacco industry’s tactics against plain packaging in Australia, outlined how “The industry hides behind a libertarian cloak, complaining that Australia is an over-regulated ‘nanny state’ that will suffer job losses and further hardship if more regulation such as plain packaging is required by law.” 1
The report argued that one of the tactics the industry has used is “Economic threats”, where the strategy is to “use the tobacco industry’s economic power to harass and frighten opponents, businesses and/or decision-makers into opposing tobacco-free measures”. The report gave examples:

  • “A well-known TI tactic is to claim ‘doom and gloom’ – that tobacco control policies would lead to job losses and a loss of economic ‘input’. These economic myths have been demolished by leading health economists in a detailed report showing how tobacco’s excise contribution is heavily outweighed by a $31 billion-a year drain on the Australian economy in health and other social costs. The report points out that ‘tobacco industry funded studies fail to take into account … that money saved by quitting or reducing will be spent on other goods and services’ and concludes that the industry’s ‘balance of payments effects are largely negative.'”
  • Philip Morris’ “No Tax Hike” website complained that “a further tax grab is unfair and excessive” and “will hit working families hardest.” This is not supported by evidence.
  • British American Tobacco sought to scare local councils and businesses in New South Wales with unsubstantiated threats of “unintended consequences” of smoke-free dining policies. These included claims that these policies would hurt small business and would be difficult to enforce.

TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. Anne Jones and Stafford Sanders, Countering Tobacco Tactics, Action on Smoking and Health Australia, 2010, accessed 7 June 2011