Australia First To Sell Cigarettes In Plain Packets

Australian Anti Smoking Campaign A World First:

Good On You Australia: The Australian government is about to make an unprecedented move to discourage people from smoking. If they succeed, their country will be the first in the world to sell cigarettes in packets which do nothing to glamorize what, for most smokers, is an addiction.

The Australian plan is to de-glamorize cigarettes completely  By January 1, 2012, ‘The Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011’.  should become law.

The idea of the  de-glamorization plan is to  make cigarettes look as unappealing as possible.  Cigarette packets, which are often visible to customers as they go about their shopping, will have NO advertising, no attractive colour, and no glamorous symbols.  Instead, people will be reminded of the diseases which smokers often suffer from.

An article in the New Zealand Herald, Friday 8th April 2011 gave us the run-down on the Australian plan ‘to strip fags of glamour’, as the heading read.

Cost Of Smoking To the Community Is Huge: The cost of smoking for any individual can be a huge amount out of the weekly pay packet.  But everyone else suffers a bit as well, because the general public are the ones who end up footing the health bills.  When people end up needing oxygen tanks to help them breathe because they have emphysema, or need a lung removed because of cancer, heart disease,  or need antibiotics and things to keep infection at bay and their  high blood pressure down, it is the general public who foot the bill via government health departments.

According to the article in the Herald, smoking kills 15,000 people each year in Australia, with a cost to the tax payer of around $31.5 billion annually.  This amounts to around $42.4 billion New Zealand dollars.

Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon will have legislation changed so that cigarette companies are forced to comply with the new regulations.  This will see all packaging standardized in olive green,  which research has shown to be the least appealing colour for marketing a product.  Applying a specific, plain, ‘one-for-all’ font to all cigarettes regardless of their brand, will also make cigarette packets less appealing to look at.

As well as these measures to discourage the buyer, the trump card is something which cigarette companies will truly hate, and many smokers will not like:  images will be shown on the packet which remind the  addicted and the would-be smoker about the death and disease which comes from smoking.  The ‘Herald’ article has a picture of a packet of smokes which says:

SMOKING CAUSES BLINDNESS.  There is a picture of a very sick looking eye staring blindly out at you.  Along the side of the packet in bold yellow with black print is the sign WARNING.

This will be a very good thing, if the Australian government actually manage to get thire ‘plain and ugly cigarette packets’ made law.

Cigarette Companies Are Spending Millions To Counteract Australian Government’s Plan: Well guess what? No surprise, really:  Cigarette companies are doing their best to stop the Australian government from implementing their plan to lower cigarette addiction and sales.

Tobacco companies are trying to ‘turn smokers into a political force with an under-the-radar-campaign’.  This campaign encourages people to protest about high taxes and bans on smoking in public.

Big tobacco interests are cleverly trying to direct people to their “I Deserve To Be Heard” campaign. They have begun slipping tags into their cigarette packets to encourage smokers to fight the proposed change of packaging, by seducing them with the  high taxes and bans on smoking in public arguments.  The message inside cigarette packets reads:   “It’s time to tell the Government you’ve had enough.”

But this message is not giving a true reading to smokers:  The change of packaging will not mean that smokers cannot buy cigarettes.  It should discourage people from taking up the habit, and help to reduce the amount people smoke already, but it is not prohibiting people from smoking.  The only people who will suffer, but not in a physical way, like the smokers,   are the cigarette giants who stand to lose a lot of profit:  profit which they gain from keeping people addicted to cigarettes.

Nicola Roxon, the Australian Health Minister, is not unnerved by threats from tobacco companies that they will sue the Government.  I quote from the article:  “British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) warned it could face billions of dollars in compensation.  BATA – which sells Winfield, Dunhill, and Benson & Hedges – said the proposal would infringe international trademark and intellectual property laws.”

Nicola Roxon’s response is that  the Government will fight the campaign “tooth and nail”.


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