WELLINGTON, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — The New Zealand government Friday defied warnings from multinational cigarette giants and announced it was pressing ahead with plans to require plain packaging on all tobacco products.
Just two days after welcoming the Australian government’s court victory over a bid by tobacco companies to stop its plans for plain packaging, New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister, Tariana Turia, launched a consultation document on “hard-hitting controls over tobacco packaging.”
Describing tobacco as “the single largest cause of preventable death and disease in New Zealand,” Turia also announced that a new law had come into effect Friday to ban the public display of tobacco products in retail outlets.
“Smoke-free measures will not stop at display bans. I am pleased to announce today’s launch of a consultation document on proposals to stop tobacco companies from using the design and appearance of their packaging to promote their deadly products,” Turia said in a statement.
“Australia has already decided to introduce plain packaging from December this year, which will ensure that tobacco company branding imagery cannot detract from public health messages and images featuring the tragic consequences of smoking,” she said.
Turia, who announced in April that the government had agreed in principle to adopt plain packaging rules, said the consultation would be run through the Ministry of Health until Oct. 5.
The consultation document would set out the government’s proposals, inform New Zealand’s trade partners of the plan, and invite comment and information from interested parties.
“Around 4,500 to 5,000 New Zealanders die each year from their smoking, or exposure to the smoke of others,” Turia said.
“The government is serious about reducing the enormous harm, suffering, and loss of life that smoking causes and has set a goal for New Zealand to be essentially smokefree by 2025,” she said.
“There is strong evidence that plain packaging would further reduce the appeal of tobacco products and smoking in general, strengthen the impact of mandated pictorial health warnings, and reduce false perceptions about the harm from tobacco products.”
Plain packaging would help New Zealand meet its international commitments under the global tobacco treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, she said.
“I am confident that we can bring in a plain packaging regime that would also meet our international trade and investment obligations as well.”
On Wednesday, Turia welcomed the Australian High Court hearing on intellectual property in relation to plain packaging of tobacco products, which found in favor of the Australian government’s move to ban tobacco company branding on packages.
The plain packaging law, which would require large health warnings on tobacco products while the manufacturer’s name would be printed in a small generic font, has been fiercely opposed by major tobacco firms.
British American Tobacco New Zealand (BATNZ), the New Zealand arm of global tobacco giant BAT, Wednesday warned Turia it would explore all its options to defend its intellectual property.
Rival tobacco giant Philip Morris Ltd., which brought the Australian court case, issued a statement saying it would continue to fight the Australian plain packaging law, which comes into force on Dec. 1, in international forums such as the World Trade Organization.
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Editor:James |Source: Xinhua