Australia releases proposed legislation and design for plain tobacco packaging, with increased health warnings, restricted branding; all products must comply within six months of planned Jan. 1, 2012 commencement date

WODEN, Australia , April 8, 2011 (press release) – The world’s toughest laws on tobacco promotion moved a step closer today with the release of the Australian Government’s proposed design and legislation for plain packaging.

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said plain packaging is the latest step in the Government’s fight to reduce the toll on families from smoking related deaths.

“The chilling facts are that smoking kills 15,000 Australians a year and costs our society $31.5 billion each year – helping people to give up smoking and minimising their chance of them starting are health priorities for the Government.

“This plain packaging legislation is a world first and sends a clear message that the glamour is gone – cigarette packs will now only show the death and disease that can come from smoking.

“The new packs have been designed to have the lowest appeal to smokers and to make clear the terrible effects that smoking can have on your health.

“The legislation will restrict tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text appearing on packs.

“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.

“In addition, health warnings will be updated and increased from 30 per cent to 75 per cent of the front of the pack, as well as 90 per cent of the back.

“There is a clear question for Mr Abbott today: will you join with the Gillard Government, or will you continue to be in the pocket of big Tobacco and accept their donations?” said Ms Roxon.

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

“There will be 60 days for public comments on the Exposure Draft legislation,” Ms Roxon said. “I will then be introducing the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 during the winter sitting,” said Ms Roxon.

The Government will permit manufacturers to include certain anti-counterfeiting design features such as alphanumeric code markings on either the bottom or side of a pack.

The Australian legislation will give effect to commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which entered into force on 27 February 2005 and has been ratified by more than 170 countries.

In 2009, the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention agreed that plain packaging should be considered as part of comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising.

“Australia is the first signatory and the first country in the world to commit to implementing these recommendations on plain packaging and we’re proud of it,” Ms Roxon said.

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