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Plain packs 'put off' smokers

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Kate Hagan and Dan Harrison

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The taste of plain package cigarettes

We ask people on the street if they think the new plain packaging impacts on the taste of cigarettes.

PT0M0S 620 349

Smoking rates in Australia could drop from 15 to 10 per cent within six years due to plain packaging, federal health minister Tanya Plibersek has said.

Speaking ahead of the introduction of new laws banning the sale of cigarettes other than in plain packaging, Ms Plibersek said it would take some time to have an impact.

"But when you look at what we've achieved in Australia - after the second world war 50 per cent of Australians smoked, now 15 per cent of Australians smoke," she said.

Ian Olver said there were early indications that even existing smokers were being turned off by new laws.

Ian Olver said there were early indications that even existing smokers were being turned off by new laws. Photo: Reuters

"We're keen to get that number down to ten per cent by 2018. So we’re going to keep pushing down the rates of smokers.

"If we can prevent young people from taking it up, that’s a lifetime gift to them. And if we can help people who’ve been addicted for sometime ... then I think we’ll see a big difference in our smoking rates over coming years."

Ms Plibersek's comments follow reports from smokers that cigarettes in plain packs taste worse, which health experts say could be an early indication the new laws will be effective in reducing smoking rates.

They say it is well-established that branded packaging is a powerful marketing tool for recruiting new smokers.

The laws which take effect on Saturday require cigarettes to be sold in drab brown packaging including health warnings that cover 75 per cent of the pack.

A health department spokeswoman said about 50 trade inspectors would enforce the new laws including visits to retailers, manufacturers and suppliers where there were reasonable grounds to suspect breaches.

"Enforcement under the legislation will involve a range of actions in responses to breaches including education, warnings and infringement notices. In the most serious cases, court action may be taken," she said.

The spokeswoman said the health department had received more than 30 complaints from retailers about Philip Morris refusing to accept returns of branded cigarette packs.

Ms Plibersek said the government "would not allow tobacco companies to use retailers as pawns in their fight against plain packaging" and had written to the company demanding it accept returns.

She said  the government would initially take an educative approach to small-scale breaches by retailers.

"When you're talking about a few packets here, perhaps sold in error, we'll take an educative approach. If you're talking about a large corporation that deliberately imported or made non-compliant cigarettes, then we'd be throwing the book at them," she said.

314 comments

  • I prefer the plain packaging. Now all smokers look like we are smoking the same popular brand.

    Commenter
    olive green
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    November 30, 2012, 7:41AM
    • Easier to pass those Horizon 50s off as Dunhills?

      Commenter
      Taity
      Location
      Temora
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 8:26AM
    • Now let's make the play for the other insidious legal drug, alcohol. Cigarettes don't lead to domestic violence and sexual assault like alcohol does. Plain paper packaging for alcohol - I'd drink to that!

      Commenter
      Sober Gary
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 8:29AM
    • @Talty +1 :)

      Commenter
      Peter71
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 8:59AM
    • Sober Gary, whether alcohol has plain packaging or not, is not going to influence my drinking one iota. The same as cigarettes. This must be the silliest policy i have ever heard. If the government wants to reduce smoking rates, they simply have to limit availability by making the sale of tobacco illegal. If that were the case, i would give up tomorrow.

      Commenter
      olive green
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 9:02AM
    • @Sober Gary

      Whaddya mean? I've been getting my booze in plain brown paper bags for years... ;P

      Commenter
      Hehe
      Location
      TGIF
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 9:05AM
    • I'd support plain packaging for alcohol...it'll at least put an end to all the liquor snobbery!

      Commenter
      Bob
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 9:06AM
    • Sober gary, I feel sorry for people who don't drink because waking up in the morning is the best they will feel all day.

      Commenter
      El Seano
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 9:14AM
    • Smokes definitely taste different in plain packs. I had one old pack & one new pack & compared them. The new packs had thicker cigarettes & different tobacco (after a pulled them apart). I believe they are ripping us off.

      Commenter
      The Smoke Bloke
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 9:14AM
    • I prefer the plain packaging too. I smoke Stuyvesant and when they brought out the plain packaging early I would ask for it. I don't know who says they taste worse but I don't think there's any difference

      Commenter
      Hugo Thundercrotch
      Date and time
      November 30, 2012, 9:20AM

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