Australia is about to become the first country in the world to ban tobacco companies from branding their products. As of July 1, 2012, no brand images or colors will be permitted in cigarette packaging design. Additionally, there are to be restrictions introduced online plus a 25 percent hike in excise tax bringing a pack of smokes to about $A16.70 or $US15.40.
In Australia where tobacco advertising is outlawed, the government described cigarette packaging as, “one of the last remaining frontiers for cigarette advertising.” And so it looks like Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd is about to take the big boys down. Only brand and product names will be allowed using a standard color, position, font and size making cigarette packs look similar to a prescription medication.
Of course this is a serious deal for tobacco companies going forward and let’s not forget the design companies that do their work who are paid extremely well but never publicize such relationships for fear that it would affect their own corporate brands. (I know because I worked for one of them).
The New York Times spoke to Imperial Tobacco who ludicrously responded by saying that there’s no evidence to support this action as effective in reducing consumption. Well, er, no…it hasn’t been done before so no, there isn’t evidence yet, but you just wait. And interestingly publicly trading tobacco giants Philip Morris (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT), Australia steered clear of stating the legal action that the industry could pursue but both wanted to put the possible case forward of there being constitutional issues relating to intellectual property and international trade obligations.
Clearly they’ll fight the ethical position and discard their social responsibilities, whatever it takes to get rich on the addicted and lure the young. Gotta love their passion. But as Susan Mercado, the World Health Organization’s regional advisor said in an emailed statement to the New York Times today, “Australia has taken a stand against all forms of advertising of a product that kills half of the people who use it.”
Currently Australian cigarette packaging carries health warnings as well as graphic photographic images showing the possible results of long-term smoking such as gangrenous limbs, cancerous mouths and blindness. (See above image).
So, what does the government intend to do with the $5 billion generated over four years that it forecasts to make out of this initiative? It will be reinvested in the national health care system. Take note America!
Anyone remember chocolate cigarettes? Well, you can still get them, frighteningly enough. In my opinion, these should be banned too. At least the ones below have health warnings about chocolate consumption!