News Wednesday January 4, 2012

Australian cigarette packaging law clears penultimate hurdle

Australia has moved one step closer to a total ban on branded cigarette packaging after the Senate passed the law, with just one vote remaining before it is enforced.

This development is significant for the law, as there remains just one step before the ban can be enforced. The final step is the vote in the lower house, which is largely considered to be a formality. Once this has taken placed and the law approved, the ban will officially be enforced in December 2012. The law would mean that brand labels will no longer be displayed on any cigarette packaging, in the hope that this will reduce their appeal to young people. In place of branded images will be graphic images that illustrate the potential consequences of a smoking habit. All cigarette packets will be olive green in colour.

The Australian government have said they are prepared to face legal action from tobacco companies who oppose the legislation. The Health Minister in Australia, Nicola Roxon, quoted by the BBC, stated that these measures will give the country “the best chance of having the lowest smoking rates.” The passing of this law will make Australia the first country in the world to have introduced such severe measures on cigarette packaging.

In the UK, the British Heart Foundation issued a statement calling for similar measures to be enforced here. The Chief Executive, Peter Hollins, urged the Coalition Government to hold a public consultation on plain packaging, as was previously promised. He says, “[s]tripping packs of colour, imagery and logos would reduce tobacco’s attractiveness, increases effectiveness of health warnings and stops misleading claims about the harms of smoking.”

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