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Banning Tobacco Branding Doesn't Make Sense

15 April 2005

Banning Tobacco Branding Doesn't Make Sense

The removal of branding from tobacco products would encourage the market for illegal tobacco products, which would wholly undermine the Government’s different social and health objectives.

Imperial Tobacco’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Pat Wylie, said today, “Impractical and idealistic approaches to further regulate the tobacco industry won’t bring about the goals that the medical association are claiming.”

“We agree with Associate Minister of Health Damien O’Connor that these kinds of approaches won’t work. Tight regulation, bordering on prohibition, has been raised before but dismissed because of the economic implications of unregulated, unreported and illegal sales. Tobacco supply will always meet demand, whether it’s supplied by the industry or by a government body ” Mrs Wylie said.

“Tobacco manufacturers are already banned from advertising their products. If you take away tobacco trademarks, such as our Horizon and Peter Stuyvesant brands, aside from confiscating our proprietary intellectual property rights, you will erode the visibility of the product and give credibility to an unofficial and illegal black market.”

“It is ‘brand equity’ that supports the excise premium charged on legal tobacco products, so there would be a huge benefit to the illegal market if our ability to communicate that was taken away. It would undermine the Government’s social and health objectives, as well as contribute to a huge loss in tobacco excise revenue, which is currently more than $1 billion a year,” Mrs Wylie said.

“What would be more helpful towards the New Zealand Government meeting its objectives in the continuing regulation of smoking would be the development of a framework of tobacco regulations that have been researched, that are sensible, that are coordinated and on which consultation has been sought, not just from the health lobby, but also from Government, from tobacco manufacturers, tobacco retailers and from the wider public.”

Mrs Wylie said that ensuring all of the differing views of the tobacco debate were included and heard must be the way forward if Government wants a truly effective tobacco control policy.

ENDS

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