Australia progresses Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill

By Doug Newhouse |

According to the Australian Health Ministry today, the Gillard Government is pushing ahead with the introduction of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill into Parliament aimed at forcing tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in ‘plain, drab, dark brown’ packets.

Currently, all Australian airports now sell duty free tobacco from stocks behind cupboard doors or screens, as per the rules governing domestic outlets.

Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon said: “This world first initiative sends a clear message that the glamour is gone from smoking.”

The new legislation now before Parliament requires all tobacco sold in Australia to be sold in plain packs – with no industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text.

The only thing to distinguish one brand from another will be the brand and product name in a standard colour, standard position and standard font size and style.

HEALTH WARNINGS TO BE INCREASED
In addition, health warnings will be updated and increased from 30% to 75% of the front of the pack, as well as 90% of the back.

Roxon added: “Plain packaging will remove the last remaining form of tobacco advertising in Australia. We know that packaging today is a very powerful marketing tool for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers to their deadly products. In the future, cigarette packets will now only serve as a stark reminder of the devastating health effects of smoking.

“Big tobacco is vigorously fighting against this legislation for one very simple reason – because they know, as we do, that it will work. While they are fighting to protect their profits, we are fighting to protect lives.”

The Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill will make it an offence to sell, supply, purchase, package, or manufacture tobacco products for retail sale in Australia in anything other than the plain packaging requirements set out in the Bill and regulations.

The Government plans for the legislation to commence on January 1, 2012, with all products on sale required to comply with the new laws within six months.

PHILIP MORRIS WARNS IT MAY SUE
As reported, Philip Morris Asia Limited (PMA), Hong Kong, the owner of the Australian affiliate, Philip Morris Limited (PML), announced last month that it has served a notice of claim on the Australian Government, stating its intention to pursue legal action over its plans to introduce plain packaging in Australia for tobacco products. PMA says it is taking action under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.

PMA has also warned that damages caused by plain packaging – due to be implemented in Australia from January 2012 – may amount to billions of Australian dollars. “The forced removal of trade marks and other valuable intellectual property is a clear violation of the terms of the bilateral investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong.

“We believe we have a very strong legal case and will be seeking significant financial compensation for the damage to our business,” said Anne Edwards, spokesperson for PMA.

[For more details of PMA’s position on this legislation click here: www.trend-news.com/default.asp?newsid=10223″].

 

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