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Plain packaging win a confidence boost for NZ

December 22, 2015

Plain packaging win a confidence boost for NZ

The Heart Foundation is urging New Zealand’s Government to move forward on plain packaging of tobacco, after a landmark victory in Australia against tobacco company Philip Morris.

An arbitration court in Singapore ruled on Friday that it has no jurisdiction to consider Philip Morris' challenge against Australia's plain-packaging legislation. This ruling effectively means Australia’s 2011 laws can remain in place.

Heart Foundation Medical Director Gerry Devlin says the decision should embolden New Zealand to push ahead with its own legislation.

“We’re thrilled with this decision and congratulate Australia on standing up to the tobacco industry.

It is now time for New Zealand to follow suit by implementing its own plain-packaging laws with urgency.”

New Zealand’s Government introduced a plain-packaging bill to Parliament in February last year. The bill passed its first reading but progress was stalled while the Government waited for a decision from Australia.

“Now we have that decision, the Government can confidently move ahead with finalising its own legislation without fear of roadblocks.”

Devlin says smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease, which kills more than 6000 Kiwis every year.

“Smoking rates are coming down too slowly, particularly among Maori and Pasifika, which is why we need plain packaging as soon as possible.

“Evidence shows that plain packaging removes the power of attractive imagery used by brands to sell a certain lifestyle or personality ‘image’ to consumers. It also stops tobacco companies from misleading people with lighter colours to suggest products are less harmful.”

Plain packaging also allows for larger health warning labels, he explains.

Devlin says there is an increasing amount of evidence to show that standardised packaging of tobacco can affect uptake of tobacco use, especially among young people, while reducing the overall tobacco use of existing smokers.

“Plain packaging, alongside other tobacco control measures, can move us closer to achieving the goal of a Smoke-free Aotearoa 2025.”

Ends

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