Australia introduces plain packaging for cigarettes

by Madeleine Coorey

A law forcing tobacco firms to sell cigarettes in plain packets came into effect in Australia on Saturday in an effort to strip any glamour from smoking and prevent young people from taking up the habit.

The new law, the first of its kind anywhere the world, came into force despite a vigorous by big tobacco, which argued that the legislation infringed its by banning trademarks.

All cigarettes will now have to be sold in identical, olive-brown packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings.

A cashier at a Sydney newsagent said many customers said they found the new packaging, which must feature such as a gangrenous foot, or a skeletal man dying of cancer, off-putting.

Sanjid Amatya said smokers were asking to pick and choose the images on their packets, with the photograph of gangrenous toes bothering many consumers, as well as one of a sick child affected by .

"Some of them don't care what the picture is," Amatya said from the store in the suburb of Wynyard where he has worked for three years.

"But some say 'Why did they change the pictures? It's so awful'."

Another retailer Anas Hasan said the most preferred packs pictured a hand stubbing out a cigarette, while some smokers were buying cigarette cases so they did not have to look at the images.

"They hate it. I smoke and I hate it," he said of the new packaging as he opened the doors on the cigarette display case in his Coogee shop to reveal the new packs, which cannot be openly displayed.

"Poor Bryan, they call him," he said, referring to the photograph of the dying man, named on the pack as 34-year-old Bryan.

Anti-smoking campaigners have welcomed the new law, which stipulates that 75 percent of the front of packets must feature the graphic images.

Stafford Sanders from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia told AFP that research had suggested people would be put off by the packaging.

"It's likely to make people more aware of the ," he said.

"And it will remove the potential for the packets to be used to mislead people. And it will de-glamorise the packet."

Sanders said some people had become quite upset and offended by the images.

"The images are supposed to be disturbing, to be confronting. They are supposed to have an effect," he said. "If the images stop one child from taking up smoking, hasn't it been worth you being offended by it?"

Smoker Louisa Brooks, 21, said she did not really notice the packets.

"I'm a stressed out university student," she said, after buying cigarettes which featured a picture of a sick baby in hospital with an oxygen tube going into its nose.

"I definitely am going to quit one day... I don't actually want to quit now," she said.

The percentage of smokers in Australia has dropped from about 50 percent in the 1950s to 15 percent now and the government is aiming to push it down to 10 percent by 2018.

With 80 percent of smokers starting before the age of 18, and 99 percent before they turn 26, health authorities hope the new packaging will have the biggest impact on young people.

"If we can prevent young people from taking it up, that's a lifetime gift to them," Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said on Friday ahead of the law coming into effect.

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

The government says it will not be heavy-handed in enforcing the legislation in cases where a few packets of old cigarettes are sold in error, but there is the possibility of fines of more than Aus$1 million (US$1 million) for a corporation that commits a large and deliberate breach of the law.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia proposes tough cigarette packaging rules

Apr 07, 2011

(AP) -- Tobacco companies in Australia will be forced to strip all logos from their cigarette packages and replace them with graphic images such as cancer-riddled mouths and sickly children under legislation unveiled Thursday ...

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.

Plain packaging removes cigarettes' appeal

Sep 09, 2011

Removing branding and wrapping cigarettes in plain packaging helps remove the appeal of smoking according to new a Cancer Research UK-funded study published in Tobacco Control.

Recommended for you

ER visits on the rise, study reports

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The number of emergency department visits in the United States rose from about 130 million in 2010 to a record 136 million in 2011, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2012
Personally I don't give a stuff about smoker's health. Smoking is a legitimate population thinning tool that is paid for by the very people who partake in that filth. I don't want it banned outright, just restricted to smoking in their own homes so they can wallow in filth in private. Tax should be increased (we need more of their money) to make an individual cigarette cost around $30 AUD and smokers banned from accessing Medicare, surgery should also be denied to these sub-humans. As an asthmatic I should not have to put up with smoker's filthy effluent spewing out of their faces.
Shootist
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2012
"As an asthmatic I should not have to put up with smoker's filthy effluent spewing out of their faces."

As a physical defective you should seriously consider euthanizing yourself before breeding, all for the betterment of the species of course.
Tausch
not rated yet Dec 02, 2012
Kudos.
(One of)Politics (extremely rare) finest moments.
BSD
not rated yet Dec 08, 2012
As a physical defective you should seriously consider euthanizing yourself before breeding, all for the betterment of the species of course.


As a mental defective, you obviously have an addiction to this shit and willing to pay for your own self destruction. I suppose you are doing your own bit to rid humanity of rightwing wasteoids like yourself.

Anyone who idolises Marion Morrison (The Shootist) must be a mental defective.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.