Australia - big tobacco fighting back against plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging..

August 4, 2010 - The big tobacco companies are fighting back against the Government's plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging by funding small retailers in a massive advertising campaign timed to coincide with the final weeks of the election campaign - the election is on August 21, 2010.

Background: On April 29, 2010 the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the tax on cigarettes would increase by 25 percent from midnight (adding about $2.16 to a pack of 30 cigarettes) and that tobacco companies would be required to use plain packaging from July 1, 2012.

Starting July 1, 2012 Australia could become the first nation to ban brand images and colors on cigarette packages under a wide-ranging set of anti-smoking measures the government announced Thursday, April 29th. Promotional text would be restricted to brand and product names in a standard color, position, type style and size.

Outraged tobacco companies blasted the prime minister, the federal leader of the center-left Australian Labor Party new cigarette packaging plans, threatening to challenge them in court and seek compensation.

Australia - tobacco tax increase now in force, next comes plain tobacco packaging...
The Alliance of Australian Retailers (AAR) has taken out full-page advertisements in tomorrow's papers criticising the plan, which they argue will hurt small business and lead to job losses. The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the $5 million campaign has been devised by former Liberal Party strategists and Howard government advisers.

But this morning Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Liberal Party had "absolutely nothing to do with any sort of pro-smoking campaign. As far as I am concerned, if we are returned on August 21 we will certainly consider going ahead with the Government's plain packages for cigarettes," he said. And the firm Crosby Textor has issued a statement saying reports that it is connected to the campaign are wrong.

The newly-formed AAR has 19,000 members representing corner stores, petrol stations, and newsagents. It opposes the Labor Government's policy to force retailers to sell all cigarettes in plain packets, devoid of colour, special fonts and branding, by 2012. AAR spokeswoman Sheryle Moon says small businesses depend on cigarette sales. "Plain packaging is not a proven policy," she said. "There's no credible evidence that this policy will stop people smoking, that it will stop kids, young people, taking up cigarette smoking. "It will just make it more difficult for retailers to do their business." Ms Moon says the retailers are taking out full-page advertisements in the daily newspapers to express their discontent.

"We're quite open about our funding arrangements so the three cigarette manufacturers are providing financial support to the alliance," Ms Moon said. "That's not what the issue is; the issue is not about the funding. "The issue is about making sure we have policy that is evidence based."

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says Opposition Leader Tony Abbott must explain any Liberal Party involvement in the campaign. "This is an unprecedented intervention by big tobacco into an election campaign and I think Mr Abbott needs to come clean on whether he's made any commitments to his friends in big tobacco to convince them to take this unprecedented step," she said.

Mike Daube from the Australian Council on Smoking and Health says the advertising campaign is an outrageous effort by the global tobacco industry to influence the Australian election. "This is a lethal industry using its financial muscle to keep people smoking," he said. "What this really tells us is just how effective they fear plain packaging will be. "The real reason they're running this big campaign is they're worried that if it happens in Australia it's going to happen elsewhere."

June 27, 2008 -
Andre Calantzopoulos
, CEO, Philip Morris International (PMI), tells us PMI strongly opposes generic packaging. (PMI presentation at JP Morgan Global Tobacco Conference, London, 6/27/2008), England, UK, United Kingdom..

Reference: Big tobacco bankrolls anti-Labor ad campaign by Jennifer Macey and staff, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) News, 8/4/2010.

A few related stories plain packaging:
Australia - new Prime Minister Julia Gillard..;
New Zealand - plain cigarette and tobacco packs could turn teenagers off smoking..;
Australia - tobacco tax increase now in force, next comes plain tobacco packaging..;
Australia - plain packages on all tobacco products within 2-years..;
Australian study - Plainer cigarette packages, perceived as boring or unattractive, would make smoking much less appealing to teens..;
Australia - federal government is currently analyzing recommendations for reducing smoking..;
United Kingdom - cigarette makers oppose plain packaging..;
United Kingdom - halve the number of smokers by end of decade..;
UK - Richard Branson makes high-profile plea for tobacco control measures to protect children..;
UK - House of Lords -debate on tobacco plain packaging..;
British considering banning logos on cigarette packs, other measures..;