The affiliation between branding and cigarettes has been well and truly butted-out in Australia, with a new legislation enforcing plain packaging on cigarette cartons passing in the Senate. The law is due to come in to effect next year with the new packaging available to consumers in December 2012.
Cigarette packets will be olive green in colour and are prohibited from displaying any company logos or trademarks. Despite these changes graphic images of diseased body parts and dying babies will still remain, covering almost 75% of the packet.
These are certainly radical changes for an industry that once had slogans such as "Come to where the flavour is, come to Malboro country" and Tipalet's, "Blow in her face and she'll follow you anywhere".
The new packaging aims to deter consumers by removing familiar branding and attractive colours, with the hope to ultimately decrease the number of smoking-related illnesses. The legislation is not only a first for Australia but globally, with Canada not far behind in the anti-smoking campaign. However, unlike Australia's legislation, Canadian law will still allow tobacco companies to identify themselves from competitors through the use of trademarks.
The tobacco industry is ready for battle, claiming that the legislation will cause an increase in illegal tobacco and fuel crime syndicates in Australia's notorious underworld.
Industry spokesman, Scott Macintyre, speculated earlier this week that the Australian Government would have to pay millions, if not billions in compensation should the legislation pass.
Mr Macintyre said that the tobacco industry was not afraid to sue the Australian Government as the industry has "invested billions of dollars into these brands". Mr Macintyre went on to say that if the case through the High Commission then Australian taxpayers would be paying the price. Tobacco companies also claim that removing branding from cigarette packets breaches international trade rights and that it simply will not work as the public are already aware of the health risks associated with smoking.
Australian Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, is not deterred by the threats and says it is simply an attempt to scare the Government and Senate from implementing the legislation. "It will give our country the best chance of having the lowest smoking rates and, of course, that will mean many lives are saved and many families that don't go through the grief and pain of seeing someone die because of tobacco-related illness", she said.
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