Australian opposition may oppose plain packaging on cigarettes

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon has announced plans to introduce legislation requiring cigarette packaging to be plain, and unbranded. The opposition coalition may oppose this move, and will examine the detail of the legislation before deciding.

"We do support sensible measures that are proven to lead to reduced levels of smoking but we want to wait and see the full legislation, and what evidence they are relying on that plain packaging does reduce smoking rates," stated a spokesman for opposition leader Tony Abbott.

Intended to decrease the number of Australians smoking, the new packaging is to be olive in colour with no logos or branding, and larger health warnings similar to those currently embossed on packaging.

"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," said Roxon in an official statement.

Cigarette conglomerate British American Tobacco Australia insists the proposed legislation to require plain package cigarettes is an infringement of international trademark and intellectual property laws that could cost Australian taxpayers millions in legal fees alone.

If the legislation passes the new law would begin to be phased in from January next year. With the new measures Australia will lead the world on tobacco control; several other countries, including New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada, are reportedly watching the situation in Australia before implementing similar legislation.