Plain Packaging Tobacco has helped decreased sales... but The Australian reported the complete opposite

ImageFromVesper ABC's Mediawatch recently looked into claims made by The Australian asserting that more people were smoking since the tobacco industry was forced to switch to plain packaging. 

Here's a headline they ran:

Plain fact: more people smoking
— The Australian, 6th June, 2014
But as Mediawatch says, "it's also just plain wrong."
"As the tobacco industry admits—but the Australian did not—the rise in wholesale cigarette sales figures is almost certainly explained by retailers trying to beat a rise in tobacco tax last December. "

In fact the tobacco industry openly admits fewer people are smoking. 

"the number of smokers fell in 2013 by 1.4%."

"OK. So are the people who do smoke smoking more?"

"No again ... the average number of cigarettes smoked per person also fell in 2013 by 1.4%."

So why would The Australian run a story making outright false claims about the increase in tobacco use?

It turns out the author of the story, Christian Kerr, is a regular writer for the conservative think tank, the IPA or Institute of Public Affairs. 

And the IPA is partly funded by, you guessed it, the Tobacco industry. 

The article by the Australian is convenient timing for the tobacco industry too, who are currently battling similar measures in the UK where plain packaging is being sought by anti tobacco lobbyists. 

And The Australian's story has been picked up in the UK press. 

Speaking to Mediawatch was Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy, Curtin University:

"The tobacco companies want stories in the UK that will say plain packaging hasn’t helped in Australia. That’s the main game for them at the moment."