New Zealand's Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill for tobacco plain packaging lodged with clerk of the House, is ready for first reading after Parliament resumes in 2014

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , December 17, 2013 (press release) – Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia announced today that the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Products and Packaging) Amendment Bill has been lodged with the Clerk of the House, ready for a first reading soon after Parliament resumes in the new year.

“I look forward to taking the legislation through its Parliamentary stages in 2014. That will include a select committee phase and the opportunity for people to make submissions on the bill,” says Minister Turia.

“Removing tobacco company colours, logos and other marketing ploys designed to make tobacco products glamorous and attractive is an important step in reducing the uptake of smoking.”

“Tobacco is a deadly product that kills 5000 New Zealanders every year and is one of the leading causes of life threatening illnesses such as heart and lung disease and cancer. Plain packaging, together with bigger health warnings, will send a clear message that tobacco causes serious illness and death.”

“Last week the latest Census and New Zealand Health Survey smoking statistics were released confirming that smoking rates are coming down, which is great news. But there is still a long way to go to reach our goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa-New Zealand by 2025.”

“The World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges against Australia’s plain packaging regime by five countries (Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia) are still underway and the New Zealand Government will continue to watch their progress closely.”

“We are convinced that plain packaging is a really important step on our path to being a Smokefree country by 2025, and that it will stack up against our WTO obligations. That is why we are pushing forward to take the legislation through the Parliamentary processes without delay.”

“The Government takes all its international obligations seriously, and that includes both WTO agreements and the United Nations Tobacco Treaty (officially titled the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control). These agreements and treaties can and should work together to boost both international trade and public health. Plain packaging is a good example where we can achieve both objectives,” says Mrs Turia.

“Internationally agreed guidelines for implementing the UN Tobacco Treaty recommend that countries consider plain packaging as part of their comprehensive tobacco control programmes. Australia has shown the way, and New Zealand will follow. Ireland has recently approved its draft plain packaging legislation for consultation, and the United Kingdom has also announced it will put regulatory powers in place so that it is able to proceed with plain packaging after it completes an independent review due to report back in March 2014.”

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