Victoria’s peak health promotion agency has today applauded the Federal Government’s proposed legislation to force the sale of cigarettes in plain and unappealing packaging by 2012
Victoria’s peak health promotion agency has today applauded the Federal Government’s proposed legislation to force the sale of cigarettes in plain and unappealing packaging by 2012.
VicHealth CEO Todd Harper said this bold world-first initiative, combined with a mooted 25 per cent tobacco tax hike, is the tobacco industry’s worst nightmare.
“Together with the recent move to ban cigarette displays in shops, these three initiatives represent a wooden stake to the heart of the tobacco industry,” Mr Harper said. “This will be a major blow to cigarette companies, because it drastically affects their capacity to attract new – and retain existing – customers.”
Mr Harper added that cigarette price has routinely been shown to the most effective initiative in reducing consumption. After health concerns, price is the biggest motivator for smokers to quit.
“Since the 1970s, Governments have progressively removed the right for cigarette companies to advertise, but the packet remains one of the few ways in which these companies continue to push their deadly product.
“As we progressively removed other forms of tobacco marketing, packaging has become a more important promotion tool. The tobacco industry has used pictures, cartoons and misleading descriptors such as ‘smooth’, ‘fresh’ and ‘mild’ on cigarette packs to make their product more appealing to new customers and to provide assurance to existing smokers who are worried about the health consequences of smoking.
“As well as stripping these companies of their precious branding, VicHealth strongly advocates legislation that forces cigarette companies to disclose their covert marketing ploys and advertising budgets. This is the way to get to the bottom of what they are doing to target kids and vulnerable groups before they get the next generation addicted.”
In the National Preventative Taskforce’s submission to the Government in June 2009, the Taskforce argued that plain packaging would:
- reinforce the idea that cigarettes are not an ordinary consumer item
- reduce the potential for cigarettes to be used to signify status
- increase the impact of health warnings.
Since the Tobacco Act was introduced to Victoria in 1987, smoking rates have dropped from 34 per cent to 17 per cent, however, around 700,000 Victorians continue to smoke. Every year, smoking causes 4000 preventable deaths in Victoria.
Australian research shows that 90 per cent of smokers want to or have tried to quit, with the price of cigarettes being one of the main motivators to quit, after health concerns.
Todd Harper is available for interview on 0417 561 412.
For further information and background, please call the VicHealth media team on 03 9667 1319.