Australia proposes tough cigarette packaging rules Australia said Thursday it will force tobacco companies to strip all logos and color from their packaging, a move that will leave cigarette packs decorated with only a few words and graphic warning images of shriveled, diseased lungs or gangrenous toes.
The government said the move would make Australia the world's toughest country on tobacco advertising and is aimed unashamedly at driving more people away from the habit.
"The new branding for cigarettes will be the most hard-line regime in the world and cigarette companies will hate it," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told a news conference at which he waved a mock-up packet bearing a large photo of a gangrenous foot.
Health groups and anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the plan. The tobacco industry condemned it, with one manufacturer threatening to sue on the ground that it infringed intellectual property rights.
Under the plan, tobacco companies would no longer be allowed to print their logos, promotional text or colorful images on cigarette packages, and their brand names would be relegated to tiny print at the bottom. Legislation would be introduced to Parliament that would bring the plan into effect on July 1, 2012, Rudd said.
He also announced an immediate 25 percent tax hike on tobacco products, driving up the price of a pack of 30 cigarettes by more than 2 Australian dollars ($1.85) to around AU$15.
Rudd said the government's tough anti-smoking stance was justified because of the high costs to the community of treating smoking-related illnesses in the health system.
Other countries, including Britain and Canada, have considered plain packaging restrictions, but none has passed the measures.
And Australia's attempt isn't a sure bet because of the possibility of legal action, experts said. More at Guardian.co.uk
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