Australia readies for first plain pack cigarettes

All cigarettes sold in Australia will be in identical, plain packages from Saturday in a world first after the government overcame legal challenges from the tobacco industry.

Under new laws which come into effect on December 1, all tobacco products must be sold in drab, olive-brown packets with expanded graphic health warnings which feature images such as gangrenous feet and .

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the packets, which survived a constitutional challenge from major , were about making smoking less attractive.

"That's the aim of this exercise," she told reporters in Sydney.

"The challenge for us as a government is to make it (smoking) as unappealing as possible. If we can prevent young people from taking it up, that's a lifetime gift to them."

had fought the change, but the High Court rejected their argument that the new law infringed their intellectual property rights by banning brands and trademarks from packets.

Plibersek said tobacco companies had reported no changes to their products, but there was a possible psychological effect of the new packages making them less attractive to some people.

"I have had a few letters... with smokers saying to me, 'Oh the cigarettes don't taste the same as they used to'," she said.

The minister said after about 50 percent of Australians smoked but this had now dropped to 15 percent and the government was aiming to push it down to 10 percent by 2018.

The new legislation comes into force as a study conducted for the Cancer Council of Victoria found that one-in-four smokers believe the on health are exaggerated.

The research looked at the impact of Australia's health warnings on , which for years have included graphic images depicting health issues arising from smoking.

Its study of 4,500 smokers in Victoria state from 2003 to 2011 found that about a quarter still believed the dangers of smoking had been exaggerated and one in 10 did not believe or were not sure that smoking caused illness.

"From tomorrow, the outside of cigarette packaging will finally reflect the ugliness of what's inside and leave no smoker in any doubt of how deadly cigarettes are," Quit Victoria executive director Fiona Sharkie said.

Sharkie said the graphic health warnings had already made a difference.

"While the main intent of plain packaging is to reduce the appeal of smoking among youth, we've already had several calls... from smokers who say the graphic have pushed them to quit," she said.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in Australians, killing an estimated 15,000 every year.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia takes on big tobacco firms in court

Apr 17, 2012

Australia said it was confident of seeing off a court challenge Tuesday by big tobacco firms over plain-packaging for cigarettes, in a test case being watched by governments around the world.

Philip Morris challenges plain packs in Australia

Dec 20, 2011

Global tobacco giant Philip Morris Tuesday stepped up its legal campaign against an Australian law banning logos and branding from cigarette packs, saying it had taken its case to the High Court.

Australia fumes over smoking kangaroos

Jan 13, 2012

The Australian government on Friday hit out at British American Tobacco for using images of kangaroos to sell its cigarettes in Europe, telling the company to "get your hands off our icons".

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

20 hours ago

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

22 hours ago

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

User comments