In which: Australia makes all cigarette packaging a traumatic experience, the Fiscal Cliff talks hit a theatrical pause, the DSM gets topical, and hello again, Mr Zuma.

Good morning

The headlines:

  1. Gangrene.

    Link: An Australian response.

    My eyes are still burning:

    australian smoking

    In a freshly-disgusting new dawn, as of Saturday (1 December), all cigarettes sold in Australia are required to be packaged in a universal uniform of gangrene, emphysemic lung, cancerous tongue, and an eye being stretched by wires (it’s meant to be blindness – and a shut eye is hardly horrific, I guess).

    I’m not a huge smoking fan. Especially at concerts where disinterested marshals just watch the dunhills light up under the no-smoking signs. But this seems extreme. And the question: does it make sense?

    The Australian government spends around $33 billion every year in annual health costs. And I guess I should use the phrase “allegedly smoking-related” to describe that $33 billion. As long as these costs are covered by tobacco revenues, then this seems like a moot economic argument. So:

    In terms of customs and excise revenue, Australia collects around $6.5 billion per year (here’s a statistical link). And as for corporate tax revenue collection from the big tobacco companies, I would think that most of them have clever tax structures that allow them to pay tax in Hong Kong and Singapore and the tropical islands. But I quickly checked the 2011 BAT results – and at most, assuming that all their foreign taxes are paid in Australia, we’re talking $2.3 billion (£1.5 billion). Given that BAT has a 41% market share in the Australian market – if you extrapolate out, I think you’d be hard-pressed to argue that the health-care cost is outweighed by the tax revenues.

    So maybe the Australian government has a point?

    Horrifying as that may be.

  2. Delays.

    Link: this is not news – it’s only news if there’s a change in the status quo.

    The Geithner and the Boehner are engaged in public argument again over the tax hikes on the rich. Obama is talking about “prolonged negotiations”.

    But Americans love drama #RidiculousGeneralisation. And what’s the point of a drama that doesn’t climax at the last possible moment?

  3. Redefining the DSM.

    Link: the implications.

    The new DSM is almost ready: and it’s interesting because it looks like a tussle between the Pharmaceutical companies and the Medical Aid providers.

    Some diagnoses are changing. Some are expanding. Some are getting smaller. Maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist, but I can make some observations:

    Medical Aid providers will only cover a psychiatric illness included in the DSM: the few diagnoses there are, the less they will have to cover.

    Pharmaceutical companies sell pills to address psychiatric illnesses included in the DSM: the more diagnoses there are, the more pills that can be marketed and sold.

    I’m not sure where the patients fit in. But they’re all crazy anyway, so no worries.

  4. Mr Zuma wins the nomination.

    Link: so no internal change, then.

    It doesn’t look like South Africa will be getting a change in president this election. To be honest, I mention this mainly to include this cartoon, which I think is awesome:

That’s all for now.

Have a good day.