November 2, 2011
THE introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes in Australia has been postponed for five months after delays in the passage of the necessary legislation.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon will today announce that the world-first plain packaging measures will now be implemented on December 1 next year, not July 1 as planned.
The move follows the government’s failure to get the legislation through the Senate in time to enable the industry to comply with the packaging changes.
The legislation had passed through the House of Representatives in August but has been held up in the Senate by the opposition stalling on other legislation.
The tobacco industry has claimed the legislation has flaws that would have been spotted if the government had not tried to rush the legislation through originally, bypassing consultation with the industry.
An industry spokesman said companies had told Ms Roxon that the short lead times were unrealistic.
Ms Roxon said that while she did not agree with tobacco companies on most things, ”I think that it is important that industry gets a reasonable time frame to make an orderly transition to plain packaging”.
”I know that many public health groups have advocated for this legislation and I would ask them to urge the Senate to ensure that there are no further delays,” she said.
Plain packaging would remove the last channel for the marketing of tobacco in Australia and was part of a strategy to reduce the toll of 15,000 tobacco-related deaths a year.