The Australian government has just passed a law to standardize the content on cigarette packets with Plain Packaging. From December 2012, the warnings will be bigger, more gruesome, and on a monochrome paper backing.
No other product has ever had its packaging regulated so systematically by the government. Nature News explains.
All packs will be nearly identical, with the only variation being a vivid image which, combined with large text health warnings, will take up over 75% of the surface of the packet.
The company and cigarette brand name will be small and in a prescribed position and generic font. There will be no other promotional text.
According to the World Health Organization, packet warnings, particularly pictorial labels, boost the number of people who intend to quit, quit, remain abstinent and do not start smoking.
Tobacco advertising was completely outlawed in Australia by 1992, after bans on radio and television in 1976. The packs themselves are one of very few ways that tobacco companies can use to entice potential customers. Although, graphic images have been mandatory since 2006.
Smoking-related diseases kill around 15,000 Australians a year, and tobacco use cost Australia more than $31 billion in one year – outweighing the $5.6 billion or so the country receives in annual tax revenue from tobacco sales.
But Australia is facing challenges from the tobacco industry, NPR reports. They’re accusing the government of everything from copyright infringement to violating free trade agreements. They’re also threatening to flood the market with cheap cigarettes.
Earlier this summer, SmartPlanet’s Stacy Lipson reported on graphic cigarette labels released by the US Food and Drug Administration – which included pictures of rotting teeth, the corpse of a smoker, or a diseased lung taking up the top half of cigarette packs.
Last week, however, a federal judge blocked the new rules from taking effect, saying the required images may violate tobacco companies’ right to free speech, Bloomberg reports.
US District Judge Richard Leon postponed the 22 September 2012 deadline for the regulations to take effect while he reviews the constitutionality of the FDA rule.
Via Nature News.
Images: Australian Cancer Council and Action on Smoking and Health