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Getting tough on cigarettes down under

Australia Considers What May Be Toughest Cigarette-Packaging Laws in World

Apr 11th, 2011 • Posted in: News

Proponents say drab packages adorned with gruesome photos of tobacco’s effects will deter smokers and ease health crisis; critics say it’s symptomatic of nanny-state rule and smacks of political posturing

SYDNEY

There’s a conflict brewing in Australia over the ethical and legal implications of the government’s proposed laws requiring that cigarettes be sold in packages adorned primarily with graphic images of tobacco victims.

If the legislation passes, Australia would have the toughest tobacco laws in the world, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Tobacco companies say the rules would have an anti-competitive impact and infringe on trademark and intellectual property laws, according to a report from the London Telegraph.

All packages would be a drab olive green and the only printing other than the health warning would be the manufacturer’s name in small print.

Advocates say the ends would be justified because of the massive cost, monetary and human, of tobacco use.

Writes cancer researcher David Hill in the Australian Age: “When then have the big tobacco companies suddenly become so concerned about the plight of small Australian businesses that they have invested more than $5 million in this campaign?… If plain packaging was not effective, why are they spending so much money trying to stop the legislation? The tobacco industry knows that plain packaging has enormous potential to cut smoking rates. It also knows the passage of this legislation will send a message to the rest of the world, where almost 5 million people die each year because of their addiction to tobacco. After all, if plain packaging becomes policy here, it is likely to occur elsewhere and the tobacco industry knows it.”

In an un-bylined editorial, the Australian Age paints the new graphics as political posturing: “It is debatable, to say the least, whether ugly, olive-green packaging, uniform typeface for brand names, larger health warnings and more graphic photographs will deter hardcore nicotine addicts, most of whom spend more than $150 a week on their habit and put up with the inconvenience of not being allowed to smoke in most public and many private places. After all, the absence of attractive packaging has sadly done nothing to reduce consumer demand for heroin, marijuana, amphetamines and other illegal drugs….” The piece characterized the proposals as nanny-like, claiming that previous tax hikes designed to limit consumption of a type of alcoholic novelty drove consumers to cheaper and more potent alternatives.

Response

I doubt this would do little to turn away those who already smoke.  I do think this would help deter new smokers from trying it however.  The younger demographic that is attracted to catchy advertising might not be as attracted to the product, I say go for it Australia.  But watch out candy and soda makers you will be next someday. 


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