Australia - federal government is currently analyzing recommendations for reducing smoking..

July 5, 2009 - The federal government is being urged to slash smoking rates by 9 percent over the next decade (current rate of smoking less than 20 percent). As a result the government is currently analyzing a series of recommendations aimed at reducing smoking rates put forward by the National Preventative Health Taskforce.

The report, being examined by Health Minister Nicola Roxon, urges the Federal Government to slash smoking rates in the next decade to 9 percent of the adult population, cutting the number of people 14 and older who smoke daily from 3 million to 2 million. It is believed a price rise could convince 306,000 adults to quit and prevent 183,000 children from eventually taking up the habit.

Newspaper reports say the yet-to-be-released recommendations suggest increasing the tax on cigarettes to more than $20 a packet and a move to plain packaging. Unlike most other developed nations, Australia has not increased tobacco excise and customs duty since 1999, except for the regular twice-yearly increase to cover inflation.

The plan has been strongly backed by anti-smoking organisations such as the Public Health Association, the Cancer Council and the National Heart Foundation but has alarmed cigarette companies, which are claiming such changes could be unlawful.

Under the changes, cigarette packets would be generic and plain with larger graphic health warnings taking up about 90 percent of the front and 100 percent of the back.

Newspaper reports say tobacco companies also face a blanket ban on all sponsorship, internet sales, public relations activities and corporate responsibility donations.

A few related news briefs: Australia - will the federal tax on cigarettes increase..; Australia - increase tobacco tax 50% - 74% of smokers would try to quit..; Australia - providing cigarette ingredients to smokers won't help them quit..; Australia - National Youth Tobacco Free Day Friday - March 27, 2009..; Australia - wants to move up date for fire-safe cigarettes..; Australia NO cigarette price increase since 2001...

References: Smokers priced out of the habit, Josh Gordon and Eamonn Duff, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7/5/2009; Smokers face $20 cigarette packs, ABC News, 7/5/2009.