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"In our opinion, [after taxation] the other two regulatory environment changes that concern the industry the most are homogenous packaging and below-the-counter sales. Both would significantly restrict the industry's ability to promote their products." Morgan Stanley Research (2007)
NEW: A time-line of the history of plain packaging in Australia. 18 pages of chronological links to the most significant developments, news items and commentary.
A very interesting document produced at the March 2012 Canadian trial.
"Why should we permit any form of promotion for companies where the measure of their success, essentially, is how many Australians die?" Professor Mike Daube
Packaging is the front-line of product branding. Packaging is openly recognised by manufacturers as a form of advertising in its own right.
In November 2011, Australia became the first nation to legislate for all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging. The law will take effect for all products sold in Australia from December 2012.
Legislation & Politics
On 7 April 2011, the Australian Government tabled a draft bill to introduce plain packaging. Click here to read the draft bill which was available for public comment before being debated in Parliament. To read or watch an interview with Health Minister Nicola Roxon on ABC's Lateline, click here.
The Standing Committee on Health & Ageing held an inquiry into plain packaging on 4 August 2011. The full transcript is available here.
The regulations were tabled in the House of Representatives (lower house of parliament) on 22 Sept 2011.
The legislation passed the senate and into law on 10 November 2011. Read the transcript here.
Australia's Health Minister Nicola Roxon, speaking about plain packaging to the Nossal Institute for Global Health on 31 August, 2011
"Tobacco is not like other products, the pack is not opened then thrown away, it is carried around by the smoker and continually brought out, reinforcing brand and personal identity and exposing the marketing to social groups and children. There is ample research to support this approach. But the evidence in support of it is not only in the 24—and counting—peer-reviewed journal articles; compelling evidence that packaging is a powerful marketing tool for promoting tobacco smoking can also be found in big tobacco's reaction to this very initiative itself. Big tobacco are fighting so vigorously against this legislation for one very simple reason—because they know, as we do, that it will work." Full speech here
Opposition response to the legislation
Although the federal opposition eventually supported the legislation, Liberal leader Tony Abbott and others in the Liberal/National coalition echoed concerns raised by the tobacco industry. Abbott cited concerns about a lack of evidence the policy will reduce smoking, Australia being the first country in the world to enact such a measure. It is interesting to note that when Abbott was the Health Minister in 2004, he pushed through graphic health warnings on packs despite the policy being highly innovative and largely unevaluated at the time. A A regulation impact statement from that time outlines the evidence that Abbott was willing to push ahead with packaging reforms.
Click here to read further analysis and an overview of the legislation timeline from ASH Australia.
260 health professors call for tobacco plain packs
Four former Australians of the year were among 260 professors of health and medicine who wrote to all federal MPs in August 2011 seeking unanimous support for legislation to mandate plain packaging of tobacco products sold in Australia.
The letter, coordinated by Cancer Council Australia, the National Heart Foundation and the Public Health Association of Australia, also said the tobacco industry‟s vehement resistance to plain packaging is a further indication of its potential to reduce tobacco consumption.
The evidence to support plain packaging
A full review of the evidence that plain packaging of tobacco is a vital and effective tobacco control policy. This document systematically summarises compelling research to counter industry claims that plain packaging “won’t work”.
Click here for a review of the case for mandating that all cigarette packs should be sold in plain "generic" packs, differentiated only by the brand name. And the concept passes the tobacco industry "scream test" -- see text here of 2008 Tobacco Journal International article
Free to download and use these images to discuss and promote plain packaging of tobacco products. Please credit source as this website.
Legal and other analaysis of plain packaging legislation
Here is a backgrounder on Tim Wilson's views on plain packaging.
A critique of the tobacco industry commissioned Padilla report on the possible impact on prices of plain packaging
The tobacco industry response
Australia's introduction of plain packaging is being watched around the world. "The....focus from investors is plain packaging, and in particular the proposal of the Government of Australia...We will continue to use all necessary resources and extensive stakeholder engagement and where necessary, litigation to actively challenge unreasonable regulatory proposals." Louis Camilleri Chairman and CEO of Philip Morris International
The Australian tobacco industry has made a barely veiled threats to the government: "I completely understand what the government is trying to do and their intentions. Our position, and the point that we want to make very clearly is, that given that this has never been done before, the unintended consequences, the things that we don't know that may fall from this...compensation to the tobacco industry from taxpayers, the possibility of cheaper cigarettes because of price competition in the absence of brands, higher illegal tobacco, is that really worth taking the risk , on those things?...I suppose the question is could the money that they (government) will have to spend in courts be better spent on more proven measures such as education or whatever it might be? Mark Connell, director of corporate and regulatory affairs, British American Tobacco Australia.
The Conversation has a good collection of articles covering plain packaging, including the industry response, here.
To hear a brief report from ABC radio click here (transcript and 5 minute audio). For a detailed report from ABC Radio's Background Briefing click here (approx 48 minutes - the file may take a few minutes to download) or read the transcript and download the audio file in other formats here.
The tobacco industry has filed 19 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests with the Australian Federal health department in anticipation of possible legal action against the proposed plain packaging reforms. Globally, the tobacco industry exploits freedom of information acts to stall or halt tobacco control policy.
A detailed outline of the latest requests can be read here.
UK ASH report on efforts by the tobacco industry to wreck plain packaging.
In December 2011, Imperial Tobacco followed Philip Morris and British American Tobacco in filing a legal challenge against the new law.
British American Tobacco Australia scare campaign & legal action
BAT Australia ran a scare campaign threatening the legislation would cost taxpayers billions in compensation. It also commenced legal proceedings after the bill was passed. View the campaign website here.
Philip Morris I deserve to be heard campaign & legal action
Philip Morris has initiated legal action against the legislation.
Throughout 2011, Philip Morris put these inserts into all of their cigarette packs in protest to the recent tax increases, display bans, smoking bans and plain packaging reforms.