The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Australia approves plain packaging!

An example of Australia's plain packaging. (c) Government of Australia. The Australian Parliament on Monday passed legislation that will make that country the first in the world to require plain packaging of tobacco products.

“Today, one of the most momentous public health measures in Australia’s history has been delivered by the Australian Parliament — legislation requiring the plain packaging of tobacco products,” said Health Minister Nicola Roxon.

“Plain packaging means that the glamour is gone from smoking and cigarettes are now exposed for what they are: killer products that destroy thousands of Australian families," she added.

The Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill, which gives effect to some of Australia's obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), will receive Royal Assent in the coming weeks and officially be an Act of Parliament.

The law is scheduled to come into effect from 1 December 2012.

The legislation has been condemned by the tobacco industry, which has threatened that the move could cost the Government billions of dollars. 

On Monday, Philip Morris Asia said it had served a notice of arbitration under Australia's Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong. The company distributes cigarette brands Marlboro and Peter Jackson in Australia.

Australia has fought back against such critics, emphasizing that the measure to reduce the use of trademarks is backed by several studies showing that such a requirement will help reduce smoking if it is part of a comprehensive set of tobacco control measures.

In September, the Government released a consultation paper on proposed health warnings for tobacco packages.  

Currently, Australia’s package warnings size is 30 per cent front and 90 per cent back.However, the new warnings will be the top 75 per cent of the front, and the top 90 per cent of the back, for an average of 82.5 per cent, the world's largest. 

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