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NZ to follow Australia on tobacco packaging rules

The Government is expected to reveal its decision on plain packaging laws for tobacco products any day now.

The Maori Party's proposal to force all tobacco products to be sold in plain, unbranded packets was discussed by cabinet yesterday.

Afterwards, Prime Minister John Key told media an announcement would be made on the potential policy in the next day or so.

However, TV3's Nightline last night reported a decision had been made to proceed with its plain packaging plans.

Consultation ended in October and more than 20,000 submissions were made to the Ministry of Health.

Enforced publication of the submissions on the MOH website helped fuel accusation that the consultation process had not been completely transparent.

Concerns centre on outsourcing of the submission-review process and the counting of duplicate submissions – many from parties that receive ministry funding to provide tobacco control.

Businesses have largely opposed the plain packaging proposal because of the impact on New Zealand’s trade relationships and intellectual property rights.

Australia adopted plain packaging rules for tobacco products on December 1. Cigarettes are now sold in plain, olive-coloured packets with the brand name in small text, next to graphic images of diseased body parts.

First reports from across the Tasman indicate that plain packaging has had no initial impact there.

More by Georgina Bond

Comments and questions

This is great and all, but I think it’ll be even better if the government cut to the chase and banned tobacco outright, giving smokers one year to quit (with government funded assistance), much like we did with prisoners.

The slogan “smoking is not our future” should be changed to “smoking is not our present or future”

This is going to end up in the courts - at taxpayers expense of course. Why not wait till we see how the big corporates react overseas first?

We already know how they're going to react. The question is, how are the courts going to react?

Hurrah. And let's just go a head and plain package beer, wine and spirits while we're at it.

Oh, and all junk food...

Cigarettes (i.e., tobacco products) are different from what you mention (alcohol, junk food, etc) because there is no such thing as a safe cigarette - every cigarette 'kills' (or provides the seeds of death, to mix metaphors).
Medical research has shown that small amounts of alcohol can be good for the body, but never has research shown that a smoked cigarette can do anything but kill.
Tobacco products should not be sold or allowed in the country because of the death, destruction and costs to society that they bring. There is no justification whatsoever in allowing them to be consumed.

That is a valid point, but it still creates a dangerous precedent for products the govt decides has more negative impacts than positive impacts.

If people want to smoke that's their choice. It's not an illegal thing to do. In the old days it was classed as a poor man's relaxation. But now it has come under a dictatorship that say they want smoking banned by 2025 but, in fact, can see just how much money the government can get and will be up to $2.5 billion per year by 2016. I am sick and tired of people raving on about how bad smoking is for you. Ok, it can kill you, but so can alcohol with domestic violence, car crashes that cost the country millions a year, murder,etc. I have never heard that a woman has been raped or murdered over a tobacco product. Sure, smoking in cars with kids on board is not good but for the government trying to make a law to stop it is just plain dumb. What's next, no smoking in your own home or you be fined for that as well? And what about the obese people? I don't hear people moaning about how much they cost the country each year. At least smokers pay their way in the health system.

Spoke to a dairy owner on the great coverup cigarette campaign.He said business had improved somewhat since the new law was brought in.Seems there is more desire for whatever is hidden, Hmmmm.

Good on the government and particularly the Maori Party for their role in making plain packaging happen. I almost agree with Shane but think the sale and supply of cigarettes should be banned - it's outrageous that these products which kill every second user continue to sold.

If plain packaging works, 'parties that receive ministry funding to provide tobacco control' will eventually be out of a job. Wouldn't it make more sense for them to oppose plain packaging? Perhaps they genuinely believe that reducing tobacco consumption is a good thing.

The main effect of plain packaging will be to dissuade young people from starting to smoke. No-one (at least, no-one in their right mind) would expect to see evidence of this in two months.

Will be interesting to see how the Government tries to spin the consultation process which clearly had a majority opposed to the plain packaging idea.

Wonder what the win is for the Nats by allowing the Maori Party to win this, particularly as it will end up in some WTO dispute process and drag NZ's free-trade credentials down the drain (and cost NZ taxpayers millions to defend this decision).

The only ones who oppose plan packaging are the tobacco companies and (some) smokers. Most New Zealanders support any initiative that will reduce smoking rates. Most New Zealanders want smoking banned.

Fairly safe to say the govt has an inside track on how the Aus tobacco claim is going - not well for the plaintiff. And so it feels comfortable ploughing on.

But I imagine you already knew that, Bankside, being possibly in the same chambers as DAR Wiliams QC and Simon Foote, counsel for Phillip Morris in that claim?

I'm not a smoker but I don't like the inference that the government can override a perfectly legal company's IP rights. If tobacco was illegal, then sure. I think this sets a dangerous precedent.

So, which is of the greater importance, the IP of companies that sell a morally and socially reprehensible product or NZ public health. I'd have thought that was a no brainer. If you are so protective of the "IP" of these dodgy companies, why don't you support them by taking up smoking... DO IT ! DO IT !


A ridiculous policy! As a former smoker (throat cancer stopped me) a name on the pack or no name would not have stopped me. The same as it will not stop those who are yet to start. I have two children who think smoking is bad. Their decision was reached when they were young via education. Aged 23 and 19 today, they see the adverts but nothing will make them smoke. Similarly, those who wish to smoke, they will do so whatever you try. The tax on tobacco means smokers do pay far and above their medical costs, not a reason to smoke, I know, but what is the health sector, ASH, Smokefree NZ, etc, and all their employees going to do without the tax from smoking. And where does it all stop? Ban the advertising on cigarettes and the next step is alcohol, and then, yes let's take down the signs for Burger King, McD’s Pizza Hutt, etc. Stop them advertising as then we will stop all the fat kids.

At 23 and 19 your children are well above the target age group for such marketing. In NZ the average age of initiation is 14.6 years. Anything we do to stop young children making ill-founded decisions that may have lasting effects into adulthood should be a good thing. That includes a reduction in tax intake. Health care costs associated with smoking are not specific to smokers themselves (a huge number of ear infections in children requiring surgical intervention are due to exposure to tobacco smoke, for instance) and so tax should be irrelevant to the very real harm caused by smoking in our communities.

Even junk food contains some portion of your recommended daily nutritional intake. There is a chance to promote healthy eating through moderation. There is no such thing as healthy smoking in moderation.

Bottom Line: If this has even the remotest chance of reducing smoking, it is wholly justified. As for your question "where does it stop ?" - the answer to that, is : when cigarette sales are banned. Unfortunately, it won't happen in our life time, and largely due to attitudes just like yours.

Let's get serious with the reduction of smoking in public places.
Already talking about cars ... let's extend it to 20 metres from any doorway in a public place, especially outside eating establishments.
Just do it...

Plain packaging? Fantastic, then let the fun police identify my "made in NZ" baccy.

You mean your hydroponically grown "baccy"?

Looking forward to seeing where the one and a half billion tax dollars on cigarettes comes from when the holier-than-thou smoke nazis finally complete their life's work. Probably never happen entirely, just like a cancer cure, alzheimer cure, alcohol cure or any cure. Think of all the industries that have sprung up around such illnesses or habits, and the unemployment that would arise from a damning cure.

That tax money will no longer be required to pay for (a small portion of) the health care costs of smokers that we non-smoking tax payers now fund.

Yes, a shortfall of at least a billion dollars. Not a very bright call by the Maori Party. Could take it off Treaty settlements, in the future, to save the then government increasing tax. At least all the taxpayers will share the tax burden of a billion dollars, not only smokers.

It sounds like the Maori Party are struggling for some recognition with this useless failed idea. It doesn't work in Australia and never will, then again our weak politicians already knew that. They feel they must make any effort publicly to appear to turn people off cigarettes. The real trick is they don't really want to because they would lose about 12 billion in revenue. Money is No 1 in their eyes ,people's health is possibly second, at best. Remember that the public are simply seen as cash cows who can easily be fooled. If governments had a speck of decency at all they would ban it totally.

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