Cigarette plain packaging, has it worked on illicit drugs?


Today Big Prohibition is celebrating its High Court victory over ‘Big Tobacco’ on the issue of plain packaging of cigarettes.  Tobacco companies had challenged the legislation to have all cigarettes sold in drab green packs without logos or company identification on the basis of denial of intellectual and other property rights.

In retrospect, this may have been a mistake as property rights are not a widely respected concept in Australia.  Rural landholders have largely borne the brunt of the assault on private property until now with a myriad of laws restricting their rights to carry out activities, from building right through to weed control.  A quick check with them would have let Phillip Morris know, it was flogging a dead horse on the issue.

But nonetheless, big government is crowing:

At a later media conference Ms Roxon said: “Many other countries around the world… will take heart from the success of this decision today.”  “Governments can take on big tobacco and win and it’s worth countries looking again at what the next appropriate step is for them.”

The big tobacco companies had argued the plain packaging laws amounted to an acquisition of their valuable trademarks without proper compensation.  The laws mandate that cigarettes be sold in drab olive-green packs and ban all commercial logos. Packs will be distinguishable only by printed brand names in a standard font and size.

In a statement this morning the court said: “At least a majority of the Court is of the opinion that the (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Act is not contrary to s 51(xxxi) (of the Constitution).” …

… Ms Roxon said the plain packaging laws were a vital preventative public health measure, which removed the last way for tobacco companies to promote their products.  “This decision is a relief for every parent who worries about their child picking up this deadly and addictive habit,” she said.

Curiously, only the manufacturers seem to note the fact that the legislation will probably be counterproductive with BATC spokesman Scott McIntire stating, ”… The illegal cigarette black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy.”

The legislation is in fact an exercise in cognitive dissonance.  Illicit drugs such as marijuana, coke, heroin, speed, and the rest are, and always have been, sold in plain packaging.  Manufacturers and distributors of these products seem to studiously avoid the use of identifying logos; in fact they avoid anything that can be used to identify them.  Even with increasingly draconian measures being used to stamp out their activities, sales of their products seem to be increasing.

Big wowser, big prohibition, and their ally, big government have never learned the lessons of history in relation to attempts to ban popular products.  In their jaded view of society it seems that, “A ten thousand year old record of failure proves nothing; this time, doing the same thing; it’s going to work.”

That seems to be the definition of something I can’t quite put my finger on.

46 thoughts on “Cigarette plain packaging, has it worked on illicit drugs?

  1. As a CONSTITUTIONALIST I have a concern about the High Court of Australia ruling albeit must state I have not as yet read it. My concern is that the Framers of the Constitution specifically provided for civil liberties, etc, and id one therefore allow a Parliament (as it is the Parliament doing so, not the government) to ban lawful conduct then where will this stop, if at all. I used to smoke from about 1961 till about 1987 and no one could convince me that I had to give up smoking for health reasons. Then in 1987 I decided to give up smoking and so to say go “cold Turkey” from smoking 2 packets a day to nothing and never smoked again. It was my choice, not that of others, and this is why I succeeded. Why not ban advertising alcohol where this causes numerous deaths to others besides the person drinking it? We don’t need a High Court of Australia inventing a new constitutional power for the Parliament rather a High Court of Australia that interpret the true meaning and application of the constitution, and this I view cannot have been done when we interfere with the freedom of publication of a company to promote products that in themselves are not unlawful. Are we to ban advertising knives because some may misuse it. Are we going to ban advertising pillows because some used it to smother a person to death? Are we going to ban wives because sometimes they nag a husband to death. Oops, I better not go any further as then I may get into trouble as if I am anti female. Realistically it would in my view be better to seek to assist people to stop smoking rather than to ban advertisements. I didn’t smoke because of advertisements, as I did it because my elder brother was smoking! Perhaps ban having brother is next?

  2. Guvmints only get or keep power by promising to make our lives better, so a Democracy might always suffer from too many laws. Aside from imposing majority wills on minorities, this might be the other evil peculiar to democracies.

  3. No doubt you are right. When the Dutch king William landed in England, he meant to say something like, “I have come for the good of you all.” BUT his actual words were, “I have come for all of your goods.” An error of translation, or a Freudian slip?

  4. I ask WTF is next (?) just as Mr G. H. Schorel-Hlavka O.W.B. has mentioned above. is it going to be everyone that doesn’t vote labor,next ? [ just so gillard doesn’t get thrown out on her fat ass].
    Or, maybe the extermination of all people over say 69 years old ? [considering, we will all get to this age,without a early death before hand then very little pensions will need to be paid by them !]
    Whilst we are on it, why not even, now ban those illegal boaties that arrive in Australia ? [ This will save the government a bucket and a half of taxpayers money being spent !].
    We could even I guess, be able to cancel everyone’s ownership to their own homes,enabling our new illegal friends of muslim decent to get 1 for free ? As supplied to them at present in our country! {saving another shitload of bucks ,too. And stuff the normal average aussie local born and bred person}.
    WTF;- may as well just make her cabinet ministers “GOD’S OF AUSTRALIA” and all will be done……

    Think about it, just why pick on something that is making them piss off big business everywhere in Australia, even with the CARBON TAX enforced onto us without a say in the matter ?????

  5. Wrong on a number of points.

    To start with: Buddha Stick. Purple Kush. Marios and Supermen. Illicit drugs have been branded and packaged for as long as they’ve been around, because producers know that an identity increases their popularity just as it does with cigarettes and alcohol.

    While Jim’s support of drug law reform is admirable, he clearly knows little about illicit drugs and their culture, and didn’t look very far to find out. In one third of a second, Google found:

    A Grauniad article that discusses the varieties of branded MDMA pills:,,686664,00.html

    A blog post linking to several discussions of branded street drugs:

    And a lovely gallery of them:

    Additionally, the argument is specious because it’s comparing the individual’s incentive to buy a branded product with the state’s punitive disincentive to not buy it. I doubt Jim would argue that people may as well hang around in alleys, holding wads of cash and shouting “I’m so drunk and defenseless right now!” because criminal sentencing hasn’t eradicated muggings, yet he applies that logic to the drug market.

    And, of course, cigarettes aren’t illegal. Buying and possessing them isn’t punishable by law, and they’ll still be available at the supermarket and everywhere else they always have been, which means that if plain packaging correlates with reduced take-up of smoking in the next few years, then Nicola Roxon is correct and this is good health policy.

    If it doesn’t, then Jim and Co can try to claim some vindication, because right now, just like the junk food industry, they’re arguing that tobacco corporations spend billions per year on packaging and advertising for…what? Fun?

  6. Actually its possible this could increase legal tobacco sales. There will now be no incentive to buy a “fashionable” more expensive brand (which by the way, varies from area to area), people will just buy a packet of smokes, and all smokers will be on an even playing field. It wont matter if you buy the expensive quality brands such as B&H or Stuyvesant, or the cheap Longbeach or Holiday. Your pack will look the same! Buying a cheaper pack might increase sales? I don’t know, it is just a thought.

  7. Sancho, were is this tobacco advertising of which you speak? I haven’t seen a cigarette commercial for years!
    Now might be a good time for libertarians to start up smoke-easies, bars where people can breathe easy about smoking and drinking. this could be the start of of Australia’s own supergangs! And you, whoever you are, could be part of it!

  8. If your only concern is that I included an apparent anachronism, Nuke, then you concur that Jim Fryar’s claims are misinformed, poorly researched, irrational and for the most part flatly wrong. Is that correct?

    Tobacco advertising, meanwhile, continues to the tune of around ten billion dollars per year worldwide, which of course includes the packaging which is now limited in Australia. If Jim and the ciggie lords are to be believed, all that money is spent for no reason at all.

    Do you remember the industry’s arguments against advertising restrictions? Exactly the same tosh they’re pushing this time around, and yet, thirty years later, Australians still smoke, tobacco still turns a profit, and the nanny state still hasn’t banned sugar or booze.

    A little bit of historical fact is a wonderful antidote to self-righteous fear-mongering:

    I’m with you on the venue smoking bans, though. Owners should be deciding for themselves what the rules are in their establishments.

    Baranow’s in Melbourne fought the law and won, surprisingly. And though it’s rude to take one’s own smokes to a cigar bar, in my humble humidor is a Perdomo Champagne robusto I’ve been carefully ageing for the last eighteen months, which I think will make a dignified exit out in the yard, in the company of some rum, the next time we have a sunny weekend.

    I don’t feel the slightest bit persecuted if I have to buy them in a plain box.

  9. So I guess that’s what smoking will come to- a family tradition! You’ll tell the Sanchettos and Sanchettas to ask for this brand at the shops, and since this will be the only name they know connected with smoking, they will become addicted to one brand, and pass this on th their kidders in turn.

  10. That’s right. Plain packaging will erase all knowledge of cigarette brands, and only the famous tradition of parents encouraging their children to become addicted to tobacco can ensure smoking survives.

    Do you have anything to say in defence of Jim Fryar’s original post, Nuke? You seem to be keen on fantasising about implausible future scenarios, but avoidant of discussing what’s actually happening right now, in reality.

  11. This topic is about brands having their corporate identity removed by government legislation, We live in a capitalist country. It is a companies right to trade with branding. If the corporate logo can be trademarked under law then they should have every right to use their trademark when selling a legal product.
    This decision is a form of communist style censorship. There was no pressure from the voting public of Australia for the government to pass this law. Our government is supposed to be a representative democracy. Did the majority of Australians ask for this legislation?

    If the government can pass this law without any major support from the public then where does it end?
    What is next to be censored, and have their branding removed? McDonalds? Nike? Apple? Microsoft? Xbox? KFC? VB? Thooeys?

    Irrespective of what people think of smoking, and other potentially unhealthy habits that people have, like drinking alcohol, eating junk food, playing excessive video games etc.

    It should be a companies right to advertise their product, and put their brand name and logo on their product.
    Its a matter of free speech.
    Its a matter of freedom of expression.
    It’s a matter regarding how far will this government go?
    Do you really want to be nannied by the government?

    To take the attitude that “i don’t like smoking so I like this decision” is a small minded attitude. This high court ruling has much wider consequences to do with people’s and companies freedoms in this country. Communism is on the rise. Be very wary. Tyranny is afoot.

  12. I am waiting for Jim to smite you with facts, heel and toe. It’s his article, so I’m guessing he knows more about this.
    In any case, my brand of Libertarianism (which I’m initially calling Co-Autonomy) would have local governments as the controllers of Public properties, able to regulate advertising over local public spaces. I do object to shop-owners not being free to display product names on their own shelves.
    At the same time, my mother died from lung cancer, and smoking was the likeliest cause. So my feelings are conflicted.

  13. Did you read the link posted at #9, What? The tobacco companies pulled the exact same caper in the eighties when adverstising restrictions came in.

    They’ll ban sugar! They’ll ban alcohol! They’ll ban fat! Communism just around the corner!

    That was three decades ago, and market capitalism has done nothing but surge in Australia ever since.

    There’s no denying that it’s heavy-handed. There’s also no denying that lung cancer puts a huge burden on our health system and that tobacco companies specifically, explicitly try to appeal to children, who are more likely to form a long-term smoking habit.

    If you find it ethical to target a group that is known to be vulnerable to pressure and possesses undeveloped critical thinking skills, for the purpose of selling them a product that will damage their health, then you’re free to say so, and I really don’t have any comeback for it.

    And yes, yes. Taxation is theft and you shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s healthcare, rah, rah, rah. But you DO, because that’s the system we have, and health policy can only be judged in that context.

    You’ll also observe that I like smoking, and I’m happy to wait to see what the outcome of this decision is before making a judgement.

    I await the smiting, Nuke! You’ll notice that Jim provided a sum total of zero evidence for his claims about drug branding and packaging, while I supplied multiple sources for mine, and that his knowledge of drug culture seems to derive exclusively from Nancy Reagan war-on-drugs adverts.

    That’s how human beings can tell things that are true: there are observable facts to support them. So I look forward to learning that Jim’s unsubstantiated claims are accurate, and the evidence is not.

  14. The “health craze” which has been marketed to people since the mid 1980’s seems to imply that you will live forever if you do health “things” and eat healthy “things” and take healthy vitamins. Its marketing. It makes money. Its a capitalist marketing exercise. Face up to it. People die. You are going to die. Everyone dies.
    Does what you die “from” change the fact?
    Some kids get cancer and die. There is no “cause”. Just the luck of the draw. Some people get hit by lightning.
    The “studies” show that 50% of smokers will die from a smoking related disease. But so what, and at what age? 68, 70 ,75? Who says they wouldn’t have died at that age anyway from something else? But this also means that 50% of smokers don’t die from smoking.
    Statistics can always be made up to show whatever you want them to show.
    Who knows if the smokers who died from lung cancer were also exposed to asbestos during their lives. Hey they probably were. Asbestos was used everywhere and in everything from 1920-1985. Oh, but you didn’t inhale any asbestos? Bullshit. it was in brake pads. Just walking down the street on a windy day you would have inhaled some. What about particulate from car and truck exhaust? – yes that is bad for you too. What about unleaded petrol? – Benzine, toluene – carcinogens!
    Smokers weren’t breathing this in too? You cant simply take smoking in isolation from the rest of the atmospheric contaminants.
    what about people who never smoked and got lung cancer?

    Face facts shit happens people die. Don’t persecute your fellow man for their personal habits. Unite as one and stand up for freedom of speech. The law makers are the biggest threat to every humans freedom of expression, freedom of ideas, and freedom to be yourself.

  15. I do concur- Governments should have their powers limited, on general principles. The burden of proof should be reversed- governments should be pre-judged guilty unless their actions clear them. Just don’t expect me to smoke, or endorse tobacco.

  16. @ Sancho
    “The tobacco companies pulled the exact same caper in the eighties when adverstising restrictions came in
    They’ll ban sugar! They’ll ban alcohol! They’ll ban fat! Communism just around the corner!
    That was three decades ago, and market capitalism has done nothing but surge in Australia ever since.”

    Yes it is true. three decades later and they have banned their corporate branding!! The governments are sneaky. They cant remove too many civil liberties all at once or people get upset and have revolutions. What they do is remove small civil liberties at a time, and many years apart, so people don’t notice, or think ” oh its just this one little thing” Its the civil liberties of our fellow future man woman and child who we must protect.

  17. That’s a stunning bit of reasoning at #15, What. People die anyway, so it doesn’t matter how, when, or under which conditions.

    How do you feel about traffic lights and speed limits? I’m genuinely curious.

    Then the conspiracy theory at #17. Yes, the stunning success and absolute saturation of market economics in Australia is a communist trap! The steady removal of regulations and oversight for business and finance is so totalitarian regulations and oversight can be enforced!

    Several industries have taken the advantage of all that rope and decided to hang themselves (James Hardy et al), but it’s a joke to blame their lack of ethics on government, particularly in the same breath as condemning government for being useless.

    You could wrap smokes in stinging nettles and tobacco corps would still make money hand over fist. I have not the slightest sympathy for a tiny dent in their profits in order to reduce the disease burden on Australians and the economy.

  18. Yes, it does not matter. Let people live their life and make their own choices. Live according to common law. Don’t hurt others but otherwise do what you want.

    Bullying is officially recognised under law. You can’t do it in school and you can’t do it in the workplace. But you can psychologically bully the smoker until they quit, or tax them until they are poor? It’s bullying and the government should be ashamed, and so should any person who bullies their fellow man about it!

    I’m not advocating smoking but advocating freedom of choice and freedom for a company to trade without restrictions. If illegal drugs were legal, then organised crime would disappear. If cigarettes were not taxed so heavily then there would be no “chop chop” sales.

    So what if you wrapped smokes in stinging nettles and the company makes money? They are a legal product and should stay that way.- no one is making you smoke. if you wrapped the iPad in stinging nettles Apple would still make money hand over fist. Going to get upset with Apple too?

    With regard to speed limits – Its probably a comment reserved for another forum, but the speed limits are generally set well under what the road conditions can handle on a “fine” day. Our speed limits are arbitrary and encourage people to break the speed limit. Government regulated driver education in this country is poor. Driver behavior is also poor and is exasperated by government policy of frustrating light cycles. Our freeways mostly are good for at least 130-140 km/h but the government does not want to support an increase because this would counter their argument that “speed kills” which takes all responsibility from the distracted, drunken, texting, irresponsible driver, and blames the arbitrary “speed”. Yet again the liberties for the many are reduced because of the stupid behavior of a few.

    For those who like statistics – there are more children hit by cars on the way to school in the street that they live in or close to their home, than outside of school buildings. In fact yearly in western countries the number of children hit outside of schools is so close to zero that the figure is stunning, and yet we have 40km/h limits around schools. Amazing how many speed cameras there are around the school zones though. I see the correlation between lower speed limits and higher revenue from fines. The “speed kills” marketing campaign is there to try to make people see a legitimate reason for the speeding fine they receive. But the truth is that its just a way for the government to raise revenue.

  19. The bullying comparison is specious. No one is saying “You can bully your classmates and colleagues as much as you like, but you can’t encourage others to join in”, which is what your analogy requires in order to make sense.

    That avoids the question, though, which does belong in this thread. If I don’t want to obey traffic lights or speed limits, does the state or anyone else have the right to coerce me to do so?

    You’re also welcome to comment on whether you think Jim has his facts straight in the original post. Nuke already conceded there’s no good reason to believe it isn’t made up.

  20. I either didn’t explain myself well or was misunderstood. My comment was to do with more of a side issue than directly related to the original post. I was just saying that smokers do get bullied by the government in relation to being encouraged to quit. You can say something once and AFAIC its not bullying, but if you repeat the unwanted message it becomes bullying. When the government runs its “quit” ads and then increases tax on cigarettes, it is my opinion that this is bullying. Anyone is welcome to disagree with me. But I wont change my mind on this one.

    Laws – they get broken every day. Most lawbreakers don’t hurt themselves or anyone else when they break a law. Undetected “broken laws” must run at a ratio of 1000:1 I don’t know. its a guess.
    On this issue I am a purist. I believe in common law. Basically do anything but don’t hurt others.

    I get really tired of the “what if” argument put forward by the law makers and enforcers.
    I can’t live my life according to “what if’s” or I wouldn’t get out of bed.

    It is a jungle, no matter how “civilized” we try to make the place. You always have to be vigilant to take care of yourself in this world.
    Humans are complex. Most humans understand and believe in common law which is based on, and similar to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
    I take due care when out and about and I hope others do too. If a tree falls in the Forrest and no one is there to hear it – does it make a sound?
    If a guy exceeds the speed limit and does not crash his car and gets from A to B does it matter that he exceeded the speed limit?
    I say no.

    You can crash a car at any speed by not paying attention. You can also run a red light if you look both ways and no one is coming. Taking due care in this situation is totally different than recklessly running a blatantly red light in peak hour traffic at 100km/h in a 60 zone. This is not what I am advocating.
    I’m advocating to do what you want as long as you take due care – 100% care. If you can’t be sure nothing bad will happen then don’t do it.

    With regard to the original post. I think plain label packaging will have little affect on smoking rates. I actually think it might increase the “mystique” of the product and encourage teenagers to smoke.

    If illegal drugs were legal, and you could get them at the pharmacy would people be so inclined to smoke some weed? The mystique would be gone.

    Its hard to say really. Time will tell.

  21. I have not conceded anything of the sort- I am sure Jim will get to it, as soon as his real job allows him to.
    I just don’t want the government, any government, to start regulating our lives ‘for our own good’. I don’t mind advice, but Canberra shouldn’t be allowed to bully us into conforming to its’ ideal version of an electorate.

  22. It’s nice to see you still around, Nuke. I thought I would try a real post out of nostalgia for the vibrant libertarian forum this site used to be, rather than the notice board for pending events it seems to have become. It used to be a daily read.

    While I admit, I have no hands on knowledge of the drug scene, the links Sancho posted in his original comment indicate a requirement of proof of his assertion on branding which in itself appears to relate to generic names for common products. The first link wouldn’t load; the second refers to drug dealers stamping the name. ‘Obama’ on otherwise clear plastic sachets; and the third destroys his case by pointing out:

    It makes sense to try and brand illegal drugs, consistency and an assurance of quality are just as important to drug users as any other consumer – perhaps more so given the risks and costs involved in using them.

    Unfortunately for drug dealers, brands don’t have much value without a legal framework to support them – competitors can (and do) pirate underground brands at will, so that their primary function, to build reputation, is fatally undermined. Like much else in life, brands grow out of a bed of laws

    Branding to me indicates a company name that can be tracked back to the point of reading the company profiles of the board of directors as is the case with Rothmans, Winnies, B&H, even ‘Perdomo Champagne robustos’ and so on. Either come up with something better or stop wasting my time.

    I have been pondering the relevance if any, of the statement:

    Additionally, the argument is specious because it’s comparing the individual’s incentive to buy a branded product with the state’s punitive disincentive to not buy it. I doubt Jim would argue that people may as well hang around in alleys, holding wads of cash and shouting “I’m so drunk and defenseless right now!” because criminal sentencing hasn’t eradicated muggings, yet he applies that logic to the drug market.

    That and a number of other incoherent ramblings seem to indicate that Mr Panza is approaching this subject from an anger management perspective rather than a libertarian one.

    The ‘better health outcomes’ argument is a call to the old statist fantasy which claims that because the government has inserted itself into the health system, it is therefore justified in restricting personal liberty in order to force us to it’s bidding.

    The idea that branding makes people buy products seems to be a regular nanny statist’s fetish. Branding allows existing customers to identify their preferred product and little else, yet Sancho seems to be arguing along the same lines as that KFC logos make us fat.

    It wouldn’t matter if McDonalds outlets used 50m high signs topped with a 20m rotating burger surmounted by a 10m high pack of counter rotating fries and Coke, you still don’t go in and buy if you are not hungry.

  23. You used the bullying analogy, What, and now you’re retconning it to mean something else when I pointed out how false it is.

    Three times you used the term “common law”. Common law is the range of rules and regulations that have been established via courts over several centuries. They are enforceable rules in exactly the same way as legislative laws.

    Common law is not, as you appear to believe, common sense and bible passages. Many common laws were established by the courts overruling someone who believed their actions were permissible and justified, and sets rules that are enforced to ensure a civilised and functioning society. It’s an imperfect system, but it’s entirely symptomatic of this site to enjoy the protections provided by the state while claiming the world is a lawless jungle.

    As for the “what if” objection, everything you’ve said rests entirely on the question “what if the government suddenly springs totalitarianism on us?”, but that’s supposed to be less absurd than asking “what if cigarette promotion increases smoking rates and the associated health burden?”, which we know for a fact is true.

    Also, you still won’t give a direct answer, What. If I want to drive at 100kph down a suburban street and ignore red lights, does the state have the right to prevent me?

    Regarding your guesses about the effect of plain packaging, tell us why you think tobacco companies spend ten billion dollars per year on promoting their products when simply putting them in plain packaging will increase sales. Do the ALS a favour and hold yourself to a higher standard of evidence on this one than Jim Fryar does.

  24. The double comma confuses the site software, Jim. Copy and paste the full address line for the Guardian article.

  25. I did not change anything. Please re- read what I wrote. And read it exactly as I wrote it without your own “interpretation” put onto it. It is a sentence written in English, not an artwork to be interpreted any way you wish which is what you did.

    If you drive with all due care, and don’t hit any person, animal or object, you may do what you want. If you want to put on a blindfold and drive at any speed you are an idiot. The state can punish you if they catch you. But if you didn’t hurt anyone, why should you be punished?

    Tobacco companies don’t spend 10 billion dollars a year in Australia.

    Thank you for correcting me about common law. Yes, you are right and I am wrong, I must have read some garbage on the internet about it and got confused. Just did a bit of googling to educate myself further. I guess I just believe in the 10 commandments then. 🙂 OK?

  26. You got it wrong, Jim.

    You claimed that “Illicit drugs…are, and always have been, sold in plain packaging. Manufacturers and distributors…avoid the use of identifying logos”, all of which is false.

    In the rush to defend the tobacco industry, you didn’t even bother to type “illicit drugs branding” into Google and attempt the most basic fact-checking. That’s quite a failure, considering that it completely undermines the premise of the argument.

    Never mind, because you’ve taken a stab at turning being wrong into being right, by claiming that branding illicit drugs is pointless because competitors can easily copy them.

    Let’s ignore that the trade in counterfeits of Rolex, Gucci and other premium brands couldn’t exist if that were true, and return briefly to this associated bit of reasoning that is so weak, yet so essential to the pro-tobacco argument: plain packaging won’t affect cigarette sales.

    Right. The tobacco industry is screaming blue murder about this, and fighting for the right to reduce its profits by spending money on branded packaging, for no reason at all.

    Meanwhile, manufacturers of illicit drugs are creating custom prints and moulds, and thereby building a trail of evidence for prosecutors, with absolutely no goal in mind.

    Here’s how it works, free marketeers. A batch of pills or tabs takes a while to produce and is made in bulk. If a Mitsubishi or Mario earns a reputation for quality, then consumers will try to get them and it will be several weeks before copies appear on the market. It’s a short cycle, but branding in the drug market works just the same way as it does in the legal market.

    Of course consumers are going to be either more suspicious or less discerning about what they buy if they have no brand to indicate origin or quality, and that’s in a market where no brand means a blank pill, while cigarettes will retain their brand names.

    That glib quote taken from the link also fails to acknowledge the trouble you’re in if you start selling knock-offs of a pill the Coffin Cheaters have invested in producing, which is hilarious because libertarians cling to this idea that regulation only comes in the form of government oversight. Who do you want trouble with? A public servant or the guy who superglues the inside of your eyelids for copyright infringement?

    I’m not surprised you can’t recognise your own reasoning on this, Jim. It doesn’t make sense in relation to drugs, so it doesn’t make sense anywhere else. Explain again how less promotion of cigarettes won’t reduce consumption because illegalising drugs hasn’t stamped their consumption out completely.

    Better yet, let’s use the same logic and just transpose the substances: putting heroin in colourful branded packets at every supermarket and servo in the nation won’t increase heroin sales, because banning tobacco advertising hasn’t eradicated the market for cigarettes. There.

    Obviously, it’s hard to fault Jim or anyone else for not having a good idea of how the illicit drug market works. They’d be better off not commenting in ignorance, but lawfulness is admirable.

    When it comes to Scott McIntire, however, you’re being treated like idiots and seem to be loving every minute of it.

    Right-O, Scott. The chop-chop market is all about selling illegal tobacco to unsuspecting consumers by disguising it in a brand name carton.

    If someone said to you that speed dealers make money by selling it disguised as Red Bull to naive buyers, you’d laugh in their face. But that’s precisely what Scott reckons is happening with chop-chop, and will increase with plain packaging.

    Go on, guys. Rail against the state for nannying intelligent adults, but nod in agreement when a tobacco shill tells you smokers are undiscerning doe-eyed rubes who can’t tell backyard baccy from the good stuff unless it comes in a colourful packet.

    Scott knows exactly who buys chop-chop and why, and I ask you to give me one single example of someone buying it by accident. Just one.

    Reading Jim’s defence of corporate rights, you wouldn’t guess that tobacco companies have relentlessly attacked and attempted to silence critics and scientists who spoke out against them, so spare us the statists versus libertarians nonsense.

    Like most Australians, I’m statist to the extent that I’d rather have the nation governed by popularly elected representatives than an unelected corporate aristocracy. I’m not the communist revolutionary you need for “statist” to be useful as a term of abuse.

    Meanwhile, Jim Fryar and the people represented by the ALS are libertarian to the extent that they’re neoconservative. I’d love to see some ALS posts defending the Occupy movement’s right to protest, or freedom of movement for displaced peoples, or arguing against welfare for insurance companies, agribusiness and private schools, but fat chance.

    It’s a strange sort of libertarian that won’t tolerate the state regulating industries whose success proportionally harms the nation’s health and finances, but shrugs when that same state directs armed police to attack peaceful demonstrators, restricts immigration on the most spurious of grounds, and lavishes public money on wealthy businesses.

    Someone looking for evidence that libertarians are just conservatives who like drugs would be hard pressed to find a better example than the ALS.

  27. @sancho
    “that’s supposed to be less absurd than asking “what if cigarette promotion increases smoking rates and the associated health burden?”, which we know for a fact is true.”

    With comments like this I am confused about what this libertarian website is about. I guess there must be two sorts of Libertarians, those who believe in individual liberties, and those who believe the state should decide what liberties people have.
    I get the impression you believe the state should be deciding what individuals can and cant do.
    To me this means you are not much of a libertarian at all? Or are you of a particular faction?

    As for the “health care burden” – when does economics come into it? How bloody insulting to call any sick person a burden. If you live past 60 you are going to be seeing the doctor more frequently about one thing or another. People over 60 must be a “burden” on the health care system. Well actually anyone who is sick is a “burden” on the system.

    Or you can take the attitude that the aging population and the sick is what the health care system is there for!!!

    If you are an Australian and paid taxes then you deserve medical care when you need it.

    Perhaps a “Logans run” style future is what you are hoping for.
    That ought to fix the “burden”

  28. Sancho, a point to be clarified, if you please- You said, at the end of #9, that you didn’t feel persecuted at having to buy your favourite cigarettes in a plain wrapper. I just realised that you completely reversed the argument here!
    The producers are the ones who are being persecuted, not you! They can’t advertise, whilst you are free from any persecution, just as you always have been. It isn’t always about you, remember?

  29. I wonder what happened to Sancho? Did he run out of ideas, or have to go to the hospital for his lungs to be tested?
    In any case, he didn’t convince me. I’ll stick with Co-Autonomy, where the joint owners of local public lands and properties can license or outlaw whatever advertising they want on, or through, their possessions. One should be able to advertise whatever one likes, inside one’s own property.

  30. New Note 4

    Still around, Nuke. And thanks for mentioning ideas, because that’s the whole point.

    The facts remain:

    1. Jim Fryar avoided the most basic research of his topic, declared that illicit drugs aren’t branded, then presented his ideas on that. He was wrong.

    2. Jim had the related idea that branding cigarettes and illicit drugs doesn’t increase sales. He was wrong.

    3. Jim didn’t trouble himself with any research on the illegal tobacco trade in Australia and simply quoted the ideas of someone whose job is to support the interests of the tobacco industry. Both are wrong.

    4. Jim once again touted the ALS and this blog as being libertarian and avoided difficult topics by dismissing critics as “statists”.

    In reality, the ALS is a neoconservative organisation that strongly opposes most libertarian ideals.


    This is where the red herrings go to die.

    1. @What About This
    “With comments like this I am confused about what this libertarian website is about.”

    This website is about portraying neoconservative ideas and beliefs as something new and exciting, under the inventive brand name of “libertarianism”.

    My comments are a reminder of that.

    @What About This
    “As for the “health care burden” – when does economics come into it? How bloody insulting to call any sick person a burden.”

    You are ignorant of basic economic terminology and directly contradicting the libertarian position on public healthcare.

    @Nuke Gray

    “The producers are the ones who are being persecuted, not you! They can’t advertise, whilst you are free from any persecution, just as you always have been. It isn’t always about you, remember?

    I can’t advertise the joys of shouting “fire!” in a crowded theatre, either, so I’m just as persecuted as the tobacco companies.

    Have you written to any tobacco executives to say this isn’t all about them?

  31. You, as a buyer, are safe from persecution. The tobacco companies are not being allowed to advertise their products, from which they draw their livelihood. Do you make a living from shouting ‘Fire!’ in crowded theatres? If not, the ‘persecution’ is clearly NOT the same!

  32. An interesting point, Nuke, to the extent that many industries DO make a profit from the equivalent. A good example is the US arms industry making a motza by spreading the idea that Americans need to buy guns to defend themselves from the socialist Muslim Obama administration.

    Otherwise, I’m happy for the record to show that you believe advertising restrictions “persecute” an industry which makes a thirty-five billion dollar profit each year by retailing a product which drops a massive financial and social burden upon Australians.

  33. I am happy for the record to show, as I wrote above, that property owners should be free to decide who advertises on their property. Co-Autonomy would mean sharing power over PUBLIC land.
    As for arms- didn’t that mad guy shoot people in a cinema for no reason? Do you think people might want guns to defend against poeple like him? Or did humanity first invent weapons- and THEN invent crime and killing people as justification for buying weapons? Or do you think self-defence is a bad idea?

  34. No time for non-sequiturs, Nuke. If you can explain how co-autonomy is relevant to the claims and falsehoods in Kim Fryar’s article, then do so.

    Likewise, if you want to address gun control I’m happy to do so in any relevant thread you name, but this isn’t one.

  35. Then why did you, in #35, mention the arms industry? I was simply extending the argument from your article! Or are there two Sanchos writing here?
    As for Jim’s article, my responses have been to show where I would draw the line at government intrusion, if I ever had the power to decide such things. Whilst I don’t like cigarettes and tobacco, I also don’t like letting the government decide what is good for us. this is part of the increasing encroachment of governments into all areas of living- can you point to an area where governments give up control? When it comes to public safety, I would prefer ‘Choice’ to tell us, instead of the government lecturing us.

  36. In one of the above comments, you mentioned that these packaging laws might have a long-term beneficial effect, but you didn’t think of a negative effect- that of having less and less control of our own lives! In nursing homes, when they give the residents greater autonomy, their health improves, and they live longer. So my counter-argument to the whole debate is that we are all happier when we are freer to make our own decisions, such as whether to smoke or not, and which brand to buy! The supposed short-term benefits will be matched or outweighed by the negatives of loss of freedom, and all that this means for our sense of self-worth.

  37. Don’t waste time on this game, Nuke.

    Better yet, watch that scene in “Educating Rita” where Michael Caine explains why expanding on an illuminating reference can’t be substituted for the main topic just because someone doesn’t feel confident discussing the core issue.

    Your response to Jim’s article has been to try dragging the conversation away from the assumptions, guesses and corporate obeisance that Jim’s substituted for facts and evidence. If Jim declared that 2+2=5, you’d complain that he has the right to believe what he chooses, instead of examining whether he actually knows enough about the topic to make an informed comment.

    You won’t prevent the encroachment of government by studiously ignoring the howling errors in the arguments put against it.

    Post #39 is a masterpiece. Comparing expected economic, social and health effects of a nationwide reform on tobacco advertising with a vague, completely unreferenced collection of motherhood statements about nursing home residents.

    Yes, Nuke. The federal policy of plain packaging for cigarettes is directly comparable to letting octogenarians use kettles. It’s a wonder Scott McIntire didn’t make the point himself.

  38. You are the one who seems to have no responses, Sancho! You don’t seem to want to prevent the encroachment of government at all! Why aren’t you opposed to controls on advertising? Where is your line drawn? And I think my reference was a good point- people who are regulated have little interest in life, whatever their age. This includes measures taken for their own good.
    We want self-government, not super-government!

  39. You couldn’t be more wrong about the smack there buddy. Saying that Heroin has never been sold under a brand name is a little ridiculous because the word itself is a brand name. It’s how Bayer marketed their Diacetylmorphine, back when you could buy it over the counter at the pharmacy – a time not all that long ago, when prohibition hadn’t turned it into the terrible social problem that it is right now.

    Speed is still sold under all manner of brand names: Desoxyn, Aderall, Methedrine, Dexedrine – they’re all the same chemicals as what you can find in a bag of goey

    Cocaine hydrochloride has been sold under any number of brand names, most famously Coca-Cola.

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