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November 26, 2018

A Global Public Health Victory for Tobacco Plain-Packaging Laws in Australia

Author Affiliations
  • 1McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
JAMA Intern Med. Published online November 26, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.6480

Australia was the first country to implement tobacco plain packaging (Figure). Announced in April 2010, enacted in November 2011, and fully implemented in December 2012, the plain-packaging laws require all tobacco products to be sold in standardized drab dark-brown packages.1 Unless specifically permitted, the use of logos, images, colors, fonts, promotional text, textures, scents, pack shapes, and finishes is prohibited. Packs may display brand and variant names in a specified font, and associated laws require packs to display large graphic health warnings covering 75% of the front of the package and 90% of the back, as well as certain consumer information and manufacturer details.

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    1 Comment for this article
    EXPAND ALL
    Plain Packaging - some unfortunate side effects ?
    Eric Blair, D.O. | Retired Primary Care- Private / General Practice (40 years)
    Re WTO Panel’s Findings :

    " and that the complainants had failed to establish that plain packaging had led to increases in illicit trade, consumers switching from higher-priced to lower-priced brands, or actual consumer confusion between different brands of tobacco products"

    My observation is that the illicit trade in Australia is definitely a growth industry, & consumers are definitely forced to lower priced brands due to the Governments rapacious tax on tobacco which has seen a doubling in cost in the last 18 months or so. This price increase, more than a picture of the elephant
    man on a pack of cigarettes may well be a major reason there has been a reduction in consumption.

    One of the most obvious points missed in this discussion is that the banning of any advertising (which I think is a reasonable action) has also eliminated any information on packaging that allows an adult smoker to make an informed decision re % CO2 , nicotine content, & most critically the fact that there are 2 brands that I am aware of that actually use only organically grown tobacco, free from pesticides, herbicides etc & which have no added non tobacco additives/fillers & chemicals.

    This is not to say that these brands are healthy per se but they are certainly less harmful than the rest & consumers are denied this information.

    I would like to see some hard evidence that the "shock pictures" & various medical nightmare conditions displayed on current packaging is an actual deterrent to current or potential smokers.

    My comments are not to be construed as encouraging people to smoke, but to suggest they should have a choice to make an informed decision if they do. Unfortunately plain packaging denies this option.

    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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