The New Cigarette Plain Packaging Laws in Australia

Those of you who read my post about swimming pool fence laws here in Queensland will know that I’m not keen on some of the nanny state laws here in Australia. Well, a new nanny law kicks in on December 1 this year, and this one has really got me in two minds.


Because I really love this idea, but the downside is, it’s just so wrong!

Australia: world leaders in….

The fight against smoking.

Most governments seem committed to reducing the number of people who smoke in their countries, but sometimes you wonder how serious they are about it, considering the amount of tax revenue smoking generates for them.

But the Australian Government’s commitment to curbing the smoking habit cannot be questioned. They have set a target of 10% or fewer smokers for 2018 and they are doing whatever they can to achieve it.

The latest move, which is called “plain packaging”, confused me at first. I had a vision of white cigarette packets in my head and couldn’t really see the point.

But it’s not that, it’s this…

How uncool are those cigarette packets!

As much as I love the idea, it is wrong. I don’t smoke, gave up years ago and I would always encourage anybody else to give up. Smoking does kill, but it isn’t illegal. So why does the government think it is okay to force the cigarette manufacturers to abandon their own branding?

What next?

Will I be drinking my beer out of a plain black tinnie with just a photograph of a man with a big beer gut on it?

Will I be getting my coffee out of a plain brown jar with the image of a restless, irritable, shaky insomniac on the front?

If this one gets through, who knows what will be targeted next. The words slippery and slope spring to mind.

The Australian Government believes that the rest of the world will soon be following this initiative. They won’t be if the Australian Government gets bashed for a few billion dollars compensation by the tobacco giants with deep pockets and a lot to lose if this goes ahead.

At its very heart, this is a freedom of speech issue, one which the Australian Government might well lose.

I’ll leave the last word to the great Leonard Cohen…..

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • emily March 21, 2012, 7:45 pm | Link

    Governments make billions from the tax on tobacco hence not wanting to totally ban cigarettes.. I assume they weigh up the money coming in from the tax with the money spent on healthcare and treatment of diseases directly attributable to smoking,guess the sums come out financially in favour of keeping cigs legal. Having it both ways should not be an option, either ban tobacco outright or keep it as it is. I am an ex smoker and wish I had never started, yes it is addictive and people do need and should be given help to quit however we also have free will and I am not sure if I am comfortable with the Orwellian big brother approach, like Bob says , its a slippery slope from there. Yes raise the legal age for smoking to over 21 but as adults we should have a choice what we do with and what we put into our bodies , like Leonard Cohen says it is a crap game and if you smoke you take your chances.

    Its not a good decision to make but ultimately its about FREEDOM not a nanny state dictating what people can and cant do to suit the governments and large corporations agenda. So, stick that in the pipe and smoke it !!!

    • BobinOz March 23, 2012, 2:14 pm | Link

      That’s pretty much what I think Emily, but I will say I think a total ban is highly unlikely and wouldn’t really work anyway. That would be like the government saying we no longer want the tax from tobacco, so you drug dealers can take all the profits instead.

      Sorry, I don’t have a pipe 🙂

  • Sean March 19, 2012, 7:48 pm | Link

    Aside from the arguments for and against (I’m a non smoker, never have been, never will be, but as long as I don’t get a face full of smoke I really don’t mind people somking around me), I’m sure someone will come up with a solution to the ugly looking packets with pretty vile pictures on them.

    Maybe it’ll start a craze in cases like iphone covers that slip on over the packets?

    Could be the next big thing in must have fashion items!

    • BobinOz March 20, 2012, 9:48 pm | Link

      I am already busy manufacturing them. I think the Humphrey Bogart will be a best seller, boy did that man know how to smoke!

  • John V. March 19, 2012, 7:42 pm | Link

    It seems Rupert you have been smoking agin…MJ? Accidents at 5MPH? Can kill too. Pensioners on drugs are bad enough…”The accident happened real slowly they coulda avoided me… Cheech and Chong…” See YouTube

    • BobinOz March 20, 2012, 9:45 pm | Link

      Cheech and Chong eh, money for old dope.

      Rupert, less banned in some places, but mostly banned here in Queensland. Every state has different rules, see SBS.

  • BobinOz March 19, 2012, 5:09 pm | Link

    I think smoking has already been largely marginalised, for good reason too. Banning smoking around schools (within the same speeding zone) would be a great idea to add to the measures already in place.

    I take the points made that smoking is an exceptional case and so it’s difficult to compare with drinking alcohol and coffee. But if we completely wipe out smoking as a habit, then drinking alcohol will become the exceptional case. It pickles livers, causes atherosclerosis, people crash cars, have accidents and fight when they are drunk.

    I still think there is a potential for that slippery slope.

    But what I really see happening here, if this goes ahead, is the re-emergence of cigarette cases, beautifully designed, colourful, sexy cigarette cases to cover up these ugly images and make the cigarette a thing of desire again.

    Banning cigarettes won’t work either, marijuana is banned. Not many people smoking that around these parts, are there? LOL!

    • Rupert March 19, 2012, 7:08 pm | Link

      Marijuana is banned!? What? I thought Australia was a forward thinking nation. Cannabis should be MANDATORY! Much better for you than any other drug, it’s impossible for you to have a fight while high, it makes you fall asleep, if you get in a car wreck you’re only going 5 mph, and it smells really nice.

      Also, hemp has so many amazing uses – rope, paper, clothing, not to mention oils and biofuels. It seems rather churlish and draconian of the Australian government to ban it. It’s completely legal to grow the male bud in Europe, Canada and the US; and the growth of the female bud is decriminalised in British Columbia and California. The UK police hardly bother any more with cannabis convictions. Australia needs to look beyond its nose “oh but the kids are getting stoned… drugs are bad for the health… people are happy!” Yeah. And. So. What?

      Back to cigarette cases – I like it. I almost might take up smoking again.

  • Ruth March 18, 2012, 10:15 pm | Link

    Most smokers start in their teens. Why not raise the legal age for buying, posessing, smoking cigarettes by a year every two years until the age is 21. It might help to avoid teens starting in the first place.

    Ban smoking within so many meters of school gates. So many young children come out of primary school to see lots of parents smoking while they are waiting. It makes it seem so normal and acceptable. Children copy what they see, they learn from adults! Smoking in front of children should not be acceptable.

    • John V. March 18, 2012, 10:58 pm | Link

      The fact that most smokers are now being forced to smoke outside is one step in that direction. Hotels are stopping people from smoking and have special areas in Victoria. As is banning advertising in ANY form for a product thats dangerous. Public Ridicule could be the next step. Of course rebellious teenagers will always ignore warnings like that from parents. Especially if addicted themselves.
      Smoking outside schools should be finable. Perhaps councils should look at that instead of looking at parking offenses. They may gain some respect. In the end its a health problem that should be taught to kids while still in kindergarten as something to be avoided by all means. (Like religion?) Whoops that slipped out! •But “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

  • John V. March 17, 2012, 10:50 pm | Link

    Viva Aids?

  • John V. March 16, 2012, 8:05 pm | Link

    Bob. I have to disagree on this one. Cigarettes are more addictive, and poisonous that beer. They are not normal human behavior and depend on the bodies ability to create other chemicals to stop being poisoned, but also make your body dependent on them. Being totally artificial and having no real redeeming features and doing great damage, they should be completely banned. Except for taxes leveled on them, probably spent on medical expenses in the end, the government would ban them. But great shades of Al Capone, that might also not work…These humans so smart yet so damn easily led to do stupid things…

    • BobinOz March 17, 2012, 1:06 am | Link

      John, I’m not sure what you disagree with, I’m with you all the way on this one. Cigarettes are the product of the devil, containing over 400 obnoxious chemicals that nobody should be putting into their bodies. They are probably mankind’s worst ever invention, way ahead of the second placed Sinclair C5.

      I also love those ugly cigarette packets, how uncool would it be to be passing those around. “Hey, want a cigarette?” It just doesn’t work when there is a picture of pickled lungs on the side.

      All I’m saying is, cigarettes are not illegal, so where will the line be drawn. Part of me hopes the Australian Government will get away with this, but a bigger part of me thinks that the court will rule it’s not legal to deny someone their branding image on a product that is not illegal.

      • John V. March 17, 2012, 5:37 am | Link

        Its a moral issue. Tobacco companies have been misleading the public with their “cigarettes are healthy” advertising using subtle references to sexy women, healthy cowboys and other stunts that deviously make it appear they are a necessary thing to be successful in life, where the reality is the opposite and was hidden. The status quo has been reached where the real picture is being shown, and not before time. Let them advertise that the majority of taxes raised by cigarettes are being used by the government for health due to smoking related diseases. Otherwise ban cigarettes completely. They are the cause of people dying before their time. I am an ex smoker btw. Started at 30 and stopped at 45. Its an expensive rotten habit. Cold turkey after 6 tries. It was making me sick…

        • Rupert March 17, 2012, 8:04 pm | Link

          Interesting debate. My initial thought is ‘great idea’. But Bob may be right that Philip Morris could successfully sue the Australian Government.

          If that were to happen, the Australian Government should counter-sue on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of incapacitated, dying or dead citizens from smoking related illnesses. One pay-out would probably equal the other one, no money would change hands, and the only winners would be the lawyers and the courts.

          Whatever happens, it would set a precedent that would be the end of tobacco companies and would be bigger than the OJ Simpson trial!

          One further point though Bob. It could be argued that drinking alcohol and coffee does not have the same detrimental effects on other people’s health as smoking does. Passive smoking is a much bigger killer than any of the ‘bad things’ that can happen to unwitting and innocent people resulting from someone else’s irresponsible consumption of alcohol and coffee, so I shouldn’t be worried about the slippery slope quite yet.

          • John V. March 17, 2012, 10:07 pm | Link

            ThanksRupert for your input.
            The other winners would be the people. Apparently forgotten as winners. The other issue. Do we need this many people on this planet. Prince Philip would like to wipe out out planets population and come back as a disease.
            I reckon royalty are the disease. Sorry Bob…

            • Rupert March 17, 2012, 10:48 pm | Link

              Well, yes, there are too many people on the planet – way too many, so surely smoking should be encouraged if it has the ability to wipe people out. The tobacco industry in league with global governments is a form of eugenics in that case. It’s no wonder they want us to keep smoking. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

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