October 14, 2010 - Despite intense opposition from the international tobacco industry, Australia's plan to introduce plain-wrap cigarettes is likely to be followed by other countries, the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon (Nicola.Roxon.MP@aph.gov.au) says.
September 19, 2010 - Australia - plain cigarette packaging will legislation be written to avoid any legal challenge..The tobacco industry spent a reputed $4 million during the federal election to campaign against plain packaging, criticising the Labor plan as unprecedented.
September 11, 2010 - Australia - documents reveal big tobacco directly involved in stopping move to plain cigarettes in 2012...But Ms Roxon said the positive reaction of ministers from other Western countries to the policy showed that the tobacco companies' campaign was based on a false premise.
She told the (Sydney Morning) Herald she had encountered "a lot of interest" from health ministers at an Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development conference (OECD) in Paris last week. A key theme of the conference was measures to reduce health costs at a time of tight government budgets. Ms Roxon said that cutting tobacco use was often raised as a solution during discussions at the conference.
Representatives from Ireland, Norway, the European Union and the United States had expressed interest. "From my perspective, the broader the interest there is, the better." The tobacco companies have made clear they will fight this tooth and nail because they think if it gets through here it will be a precedent.
Ms. Roxon: "Interestingly a lot of the other countries were very quick to understand that that fight is actually a bit of a false one because a lot of them are interested anyway. It is sort of an inevitable step along a spectrum of taking action against tobacco. What I was heartened by is the potential that other countries would like to move in this direction irrespective of ours, which makes the tobacco company fight with us a little different. People were pretty gob-smacked about the amount of money the tobacco companies spent during the campaign, especially relative to the amount of money the political parties spent."
Ms Roxon said that among the "very positive" indications she had received was the interest from a senior US health official who had a background in tobacco control. He had told her about legislation giving the US federal government more powers over tobacco content and labelling. (The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; President Obama signs bill for FDA to regulate tobacco..)
Australia has reduced the proportion of smokers in the population to 15.5 per cent and the death toll from smoking-related diseases has fallen to about 15,000 - down by about 3000 from a decade earlier.
September 23, 2010 - Australia - tobacco tax increase results in more people quitting..Ms Roxon said she expected drafting of the legislation and the Health Department's assessment of the plain packaging policy to start by the end of the year.
The anti-tobacco campaigner Professor Simon Chapman, of Sydney University, said it appeared the tobacco industry was scaling down its campaign. There had been suggestions that the industry was to continue with a multimillion-dollar campaign during the football final telecasts, but this did not eventuate.
Reference: World set to follow Australian tobacco policy, Mark Metherell HEALTH CORRESPONDENT, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/15/2010.