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Australia proposes selling cigarettes in plain packages

May 4, 2010 | 11:08 am

By law, cigarette packages must contain written warnings regarding the health dangers of smoking. However, governments around the world are expressing discontent with that strategy and are proposing more stringent regulations. Last week, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd unveiled comprehensive antismoking legislation that includes requiring manufacturers to sell cigarettes in plain packaging. Fancy packaging is a marketing tool that is thought to persuade young people to take up smoking.

Cigs Under Australia's measure, the first such in the world, all cigarettes would be sold in plain packaging by July 2012, according to a news release from Rudd's office. The legislation would restrict or prohibit tobacco-industry logos, brand imagery, colors and promotional text other than the brand and product name in a standard color, position, font style and size.

"There can be no justification for allowing any form of promotion for this uniquely dangerous and addictive product, which is illegal to sell to children," said officials in a statement from the country's National Preventative Health Taskforce.

Other countries are considering changes to cigarette packaging too. Many propose adding graphic picture warnings that convey the dangers of smoking, such as a picture of a premature infant born to a woman who smoked during pregnancy.

All these measures will be challenged by the tobacco industry. But it seems clear that exasperation is mounting with the high medical and economic costs to society wrought by smoking.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: Emile Wamsteker  /  Bloomberg News