News & Comment

Australian government unveils "world's toughest laws on tobacco promotion"

Thu 7th April, 2011

The Australian government has unveiled plans to force tobacco companies to print brand names in a small, uniform font, while packets will be a dull olive green - a colour the government believes consumers will hate.

Logos and any form of distinct branding would be completely banned. Instead, the brand names would appear in a standard size and font, making them as bland and anonymous as possible.

A greater area of the packaging would also be taken up with grotesque pictures of cancerous tumours and the health effects of tobacco.

"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," Health Minister Nicola Roxon said in a statement.

"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 law would be phased in over six months, starting in January 2012.The legality of the measure and whether it violates trademark laws is a matter of debate among experts.

British American Tobacco Australia , whose brands include Winfield, Dunhill and Benson & Hedges, said the government's plans would infringe international trademark and intellectual property laws.

"The government could end up wasting millions of taxpayers' dollars in legal fees trying to defend their decision, let alone the potential to pay billions to the tobacco industry for taking away our intellectual property ," BATA spokesman Scott McIntyre said in a statement.

Sources: Australia unveils plans for tough anti-smoking laws (Reuters), 
Australian anti-smoking laws to be 'toughest in world' (BBC News)

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