09 Oct 2012
HOW WAS THE COUNCIL INVOLVED WITH AUSTRALIA’S RECENT DECISION TO REJECT A CHALLENGE BY THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY OF A NEW LAW ON PLAIN PACKAGING?
The council played a key role in research and advocacy leading up to the Australian Government’s announcement to introduce plain packaging. We supported development of the legislation with four council staff serving on the government’s Expert Advisory Group for plain packaging of tobacco control, and continued our support through the tobacco industry’s challenge of the legislation. The council’s expertise includes behavioural research, tobacco control policy and legal policy.
On a personal level, I was seconded to the Australian Government for 18 months from 2010-11 to lead the plain packaging team responsible for developing the legislation.
WHAT DOES THIS NEW LAW MEAN FOR TOBACCO CONTROL GLOBALLY?
The passing of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 in Australia, and the defeat of its challenge in the High Court of Australia, is one of the most significant steps in global tobacco control in the last decade. It shows other countries the importance of standing up to the tobacco industry’s threats; the role that civil society can and must play to have a major tobacco control initiative successfully adopted; and the importance of the global tobacco control community sharing intelligence and supporting each other. We could not have achieved what we did in Australia alone: much of the success is due to collaboration with, and support of, our international colleagues.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER OTHER ORGANISATIONS PLANNING TO WORK ON PLAIN PACKAGING IMPLEMENTATION?
For those considering plain packaging, it is crucial to develop relationships early in your campaign with experts outside of the tobacco control field, such as in constitutional and trade law, customs, tax, product marketing and packaging design and production.
IN TERMS OF THE WHO FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL (FCTC), IS YOUR ORGANISATION WORKING ON ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO MENTION?
We work across all areas of the FCTC but our next big policy challenge is the availability of tobacco – undertaking research and developing policies to restrict the number of retail outlets where tobacco can be purchased.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES YOUR ORGANISATION FACES DOING THIS WORK?
Lack of data on retail outlets and information such as sales volume, which the tobacco industry has in great detail.