NZ all in for plain tobacco packaging

New Zealand’s cabinet has agreed in principle to introduce plain packaging for all tobacco products in New Zealand, following a similar move in Australia.

According to Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia the packs will display only health warnings and the contact details for Quitline - the government-funded service helping smokers quit. “Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable death and disease in New Zealand and we must be prepared to take bold steps towards achieving our goal,” Mrs Turia said on Thursday. “We have banned the open display of cigarette and tobacco packs in all dairies and other shops with effect from July 23 this year. Plain packaging is the next step to ensure that once they are in the hands and homes of smokers, the packs don't promote anything other than our serious health warnings and quit messages.”

There will be a public consultation process on the proposed change, she added. In December Australia will become the first country in the world to enforce plain packaging of tobacco products. The final decision will hinge on talks with the public and industry, which Ms Turia said are “a transparent way of reviewing the evidence and testing the case for plain packaging”. However, Ms Turia says she is “confident” the government can launch the scheme while meeting its international commitments “including a major global treaty on tobacco control as well as a range of multilateral, regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements”.

Lawyers for British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Philp Morris and Imperial Tobacco Australia told the High Court in Australia this week that plain packaging would extinguish their brands and logos. Government sources are optimistic the legislation will survive the High Court case, saying the companies have failed to land a killer legal blow. A decision on the measure may be months away. The case continues. Britain's government is also expected to introduce similar laws.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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