Despite the government seeing the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Standardised Packaging) Amendment Bill pass its third reading last week, tobacco companies will continue pressing their case.
The new law allows a plain packaging regime for tobacco products, meaning the government can ban any branding on a cigarette packet, as well as prescribe the colour, shape and size of the box.
This follows the Australian government’s plain packaging law from 2012. British American Tobacco says it will consider a legal challenge to plain cigarette packaging. Saul Derber, head of legal and external affairs at British American Tobacco, says the company has reserved its position on a possible legal challenge. He says, “Not only is the Australian tobacco plain packaging experiment failing to meet its objectives, the policy is having serious unintended consequences.
“The tobacco black market has grown by over 20 per cent in Australia since the introduction of plain packs, costing the Australian Government about $1.5bn in lost revenue in 2015. Given that New Zealand, unlike Australia, has an unlicensed personal tobacco growing allowance and lower penalties for trade in black market tobacco, we expect the black market here to grow as well.”
“Black market tobacco has no graphic health warnings, no controls preventing sales to youth and pays no taxes. This can only grow with excise hikes over the next four years.”
British American Tobacco sees plain packaging as an attack on companies’ intellectual property rights.

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