Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Plain packaging tobacco products

Drastic plans by Australia to become the first country to enforce plain packaging for cigarettes could cut smoking rates, and are likely to be emulated by Canada, New Zealand, and Britain, reinforcing Australia's record as a world leader in anti smoking measures.

In November 2011, the Australian Government passed a bill to make plain packaging law in 2012.

The Australian government has announced draft legislation to outlaw all logos, colors, brand imagery, and promotional text from cigarette packets. Professor of public health at Curtin University’s Institute of Public Policy in Perth, John Daube, said the move will “take away the tobacco industry’s final capacity to promote its product.”

Australia has long been at the forefront of the war on tobacco. More than 20 years ago, it was one of the first countries to ban tobacco advertising, and in some states smoking has been illegal in indoor public places and public transport since 1999. For the past seven years, cigarettes have been banned from most of the popular beaches, including Sydney's iconic crowd-drawing Bondi and Manly Beaches, and now a ban on smoking in apartment buildings is being considered. Cigarette packs already feature graphic health warnings and images of diseases and smoking within 10 metres of an entrance to a public building is banned in the Australian Capital Territory.

The NSW and the ACT health Departments have declared smoking prohibited within the precincts of all its campuses and service locations.
In a recent press release the British Tobacco Company stated:

“We are strongly opposed to plain packaging of our products. There is no proof to suggest that the plain packaging of tobacco products will be effective in discouraging young people to smoke, encouraging existing smokers to quit, or increasing the effectiveness of health warnings.”

ASH – “Action on Smoking and Health” says:

“The packaging of tobacco is a major part of its advertising - as the tobacco industry admits in its own documents. That's why ASH and many other organisations support mandated plain standardised packaging of tobacco products - and why the industry is fighting it.”

The Lancet medical journal, August 2011 stated:

“The sovereignty of countries should be absolute and not influenced by multinational companies with complex accountability. This laudable move towards plain packaging must not be derailed by veiled tactics from companies with vested interests. Only then can progress be made to tackle tobacco-associated diseases, which are largely preventable, but mostly lethal.”

New Zealand is set to follow Australia’s example but reports:
The biggest tobacco supplier in New Zealand is vowing to fight the Government if they introduce controversial plain cigarette packages. 3 News has obtained documents revealing the dull-green packs may be introduced here next year, and already the battle lines are being drawn. The Australian government has this week become the first country in the world to pass a law introducing the dull-green packs but they are being sued. And New Zealand’s biggest supplier says it will take every action necessary to stop the move here.
In all probability the 'Plain packaging' law will have minimal effect on existing, committed smokers. Its real aim is to cut off the tobacco industry from wooing new and younger persons into the smoking habit and the 'health aims' of the new law will be long term directed.

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