Plain Packaging of Tobacco

The packaging of tobacco is a major part of its advertising – as the tobacco industry admits in its own documents. That’s why ASH and many other organisations support mandated plain standardised packaging of tobacco products – and why the industry is fighting it.

The sovereignty of countries should be absolute and not influenced by multinational companies with complex accountability. This laudable move towards plain packaging must not be derailed by veiled tactics from companies with vested interests. Only then can progress be made to tackle tobacco-associated diseases, which are largely preventable, but mostly lethal.
The Lancet medical journal, August 2011

STOP PRESS:

Tobacco co’s UK anti-plain pack ads misled

Australia’s world-first plain packs laws now in force!
Information on the tobacco plain packaging laws


What the new Oz packs look like
See high resolution images and latest Australian pack health warnings.

AUSTRALIAN NEWS

Tobacco retailers claim transactions slower; evidence says faster

March 2013: Survey of 450 tobacco retailers, commissioned by Philip Morris, finds most retailers believe plain packaging has slowed their transaction times. Australian 7/3/13

But this is contradicted by a survey of actual measured tobacco transaction times in 100 varied Perth suburban retail outlets before and after plain packs took effect on 1/12/12. Curtin Uni finds more retailers reduced than increased transaction times. Authors suggest re current UK considerations: “If they sincerely represent the best interests of their members and support the future health of British citizens, national retail groups should immediately withdraw their objections to generic tobacco packaging.” Study

Tobacco giants spent $14m in fight against plain packs

February 2013: The tobacco industry spent around $14m in its fight against plain packaging in Australia. ABC analysis of funding disclosures shows $9m was spent by BAT and Philip Morris to bankroll the Alliance of Australian Retailers campaign; plus an extra $4m media spend by Imperial, a further $500,000 by Philip Morris on media, and smaller amounts. ABC news 1/2/13

Liberal Senator linked with tobacco and gun lobby groups

January 2013: Key Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi is linked with powerful lobby groups the American Legislative Exchange Council and Heartland Institute – both connected with campaigns against tobacco and gun regulation. The Senator had four US trips paid by the groups, some around the time of the tobacco industry’s High Court challenge and aggressive lobbying against plain packs. He opposed one of the plain pack bills in parliament in 2011. He defends not declaring the links, denying they are a conflict of interest. AAP/Australian 27/1/13

Quit ad says “you can’t hide the harm”
December 2012: New mass media quit smoking campaign makes the point that whatever you do to cover the health warning on the packet, you can’t hide the health harm. Quit ad 19/12/12 Tobacco industry’s “whiff of desperation” at early impact of plain packs: SMH op ed 8/1/13

Plain packs in force – and already a turnoff for smokers
December 1, 2012: In a world first, mandatory plain standardised packaging of tobacco takes full effect throughout Australia – and is already turning off smokers. The reform scores worldwide media attention, with UK, NZ and other governments poised to follow. BBC World News 1/12/12 with ASH Aust comment AFP report in China Daily 3/12/12 with ASH Aust comment Perception is everything, explains marketing expert: ABC Drum 3/12/12 CCTV China report in English 2/12/12 with ASH Aust comment TF1 France report in French 4/12/12 with ASH Aust comment

Tobacco industry skirts plain pack law to brink of deadline

November 2012: Tobacco giant British American Tobacco is forced to remove non-compliant markings from its cigarettes on brink of plain packaging deadline December 1. Three-letter watermarks indicating cities lashed by Health Minister Plibersek as “cigarette companies trying to push the boundaries”. ABC News 29/11/12

High Court’s 6:1 judgment: plain packs not unconstitutional, no acquisition
October 2012: Australia’s High Court publishes full judgment in 6:1 decision backing plain pack legislation against constitutional challenge by tobacco companies. Court finds the legislation valid; not amounting to acquisition of tobacco industry property; not leading to Government or anyone else obtaining proprietary benefit or interest. JTI and BATA vs C’wealth: High Court judgment 5/10/12

Big 3 plain packs response: reassurance, more descriptors, subliminal ploys, protest
September 2012: In leadup to plain packs changeover starting Oct 1, Big 3 tobacco companies launch new packaging and retailer briefings. BAT will have at least 38 descriptors on its brands. All companies reassure unchanged “quality”, remind retailers of legal responsibilities to comply. Philip Morris urges continued protest. An Imperial brand makes shrewd subliminal connection with plain pack design. Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says industry response a “sick joke”, warns attempts to save brands by catchy taglines won’t work.SMH 12/9/12 Health Dept provides info to retailers.

High Court rejects legal challenge to plain packs

August 2012: Australia’s High Court rejects four tobacco giants’ legal challenge to plain pack laws, ruling the legislation is not unconstitutional. Companies ordered to pay government’s costs. Newly manufactured packs must comply by Oct 1, all non-compliant packs to be off shelves by Dec 1. Health leaders welcome decision as victory for public health against industry’s aggressive, deceptive scare campaign. Government delighted: ABC News 15/8/12. Reaction from SE Asia health community: SEATCA 15/8/12 Roundup of worldwide reactions, comment and future steps at Croakey health blog VicHealth chief: Plainly No need to feel sorry for Big Tobacco Where to now? ASH comments in Open Forum 22/8/12 Bring on the end but not a total ban now – Prof Mike Daube in The Conversation

Metal jacket move to cover plain packs
May 2012: Tobacco companies warned against distributing metal covers to hide new plain packs and health warnings. Health Minister Tanya Plibersek warns these won’t comply with new laws from December 1. Minister also announces tough new penalties for tobacco smuggling. Melbourne Age 31/5/12

Roxon honoured in Washington for plain packs fight

May 2012: Australian Attorney-General and former Health Minister Nicola Roxon has been honoured in Washington as “Global Champion” of tobacco control, for leading the fight for plain tobacco packs. Sydney Morning Herald 17/5/12
Tobacco giant in sneaky ad for cut-price cigs

May 2012: British American Tobacco releases new cut-price cigarette brand, selling for just $11.50 per 25-pack. A thinly-disguised advertisement, using flaky claims of illicit trade as excuse; also an attempt to undermine plain packaging and tobacco tax increases. BATA release 17/5/12 (not online)Telegraph/news.com 17/5/12 including BATA and AMA comment How Tele was sucked in: Crikey 17/5/12

Tobacco industry beats illicit trade drum again
May 2012: Australia’s tobacco giants renew wild claims of rising illicit trade in leadup to plain pack laws taking effect. Deloitte report commissioned by “Big 3″ claims counterfeit/contraband tobacco, fuelled by pack reform, tripled in a year, costing $1b lost tax – claim unsupported by independent evidence. Telegraph, Sydney 3/5/12 Deloitte report May 2012 and for the facts: Quit Victoria critique

Tobacco companies fund international challenge
April 2012: Australia’s Big Two tobacco companies, Philip Morris and BAT, admit funding legal costs of two countries, Ukraine and Honduras, threatening challenge in World Trade Organization to Australia’s plain pack bills. Financial Times 29/4/12 More in earlier reports below

High Court considers plain packs verdict
April 2012: High Court hearings in the constitutional challenge by tobacco companies against Australia’s plain packaging legislation. Court now considers verdict. Guardian UK 20/4/12 Update withASH Australia comment on plain packs and other issues: British Medical Journal 19/4/12 Transcripts of pre-hearing submissions and hearings here – see especially Feb and April under BAT, Philip Morris, ITA, JTA

Company wants compensation for reduced death and disease
April 2012: A tobacco company suing Australian government over plain packaging, Japan Tobacco International, tells High Court in pre-hearing submission if mandatory plain packs lead to reduced health costs, government should compensate JTI for this benefit of “acquiring” brands.SMH 14/4/12

Cartoon by Grant Hocking, ASH NZ

Government submission takes on Plain Pack Attack
April 2012: Australian Government lodges plain packaging submission to High Court for hearings from April 17. Tobacco giants are challenging legislation to take full effect December 1. Government says it is restricting, not “acquiring” tobacco trademarks as claimed by companies. SMH 6/4/12

Honduras joins Ukraine in WTO complaint
April 2012: Honduras complains to World Trade Organization, claiming (along with Ukraine – see below) that Australia’s plain pack laws violate global intellectual property rules. Bloomberg news 4/4/12

Ukraine complains but Australia “ready to defend any challenge”
March 2012: Ukraine complains to World Trade Organization, claiming Australia’s plain pack laws violate global intellectual property rules. But Australia “prepared to defend any challenge” to its landmark legislation, says Trade Minister. Bloomberg/SMH 15/3/12Ukraine has not traded with Australia since 2005. SMH 27/3/12 Analysis of Ukraine’s complaint by legal expert Benn McGrady at O’Neill Institute trade blog 20/3/12 See above, News April 2012 for source of funding for this challenge – surprise surprise!

Leaked briefing recommends Philip Morris should encourage WTO complaint
March 2012: Leaked security briefing to Philip Morris from Wells Fargo Security, Dec 2011 says:
Aside from claiming violation under the Hong Kong Bilateral Treaty, there are two additional legal avenues PM can pursue: (1) initiating legal action in Australia’s domestic courts…. under the grounds that the plain packaging law is unconstitutional and/or 2) urging a country or countries that trade with Australia to file a WTO action claim arguing that the plain packaging law would put Australia’s trade partners at a disadvantage (this is not an action that PM can initiate).Wells Fargo Security briefing Dec 2011, obtained by ASH Australia March 2012

Tobacco companies deny health evidence in plain packs case
March 2012: Australia’s major tobacco companies “denied the content” of “barrow loads” of health evidence on tobacco harm in lead-up to plain packs High Court challenge. Presenting documents, they either argue health evidence is in dispute or irrelevant to their constitutional case. SMH 13/3/12

Non-cigarette plain packs regulations released
March 2012: Australian Government releases amendments to Plain Packs regulations, extending them to non-tobacco products like “rollie” and cigars. ASH and other health groups made input into this consultation. Regulations and explanatory statement

Study confirms wisdom of standardising stick design
March 2012: New Australia plain pack laws will also standardise cigarette stick design – wise move, confirmed by Australian research showing this is a factor in brand appeal. Authors conclude “comprehensive policy… needs to include rules about stick design.” Abstract

Industry’s massive FOI impost on taxpayer
February 2012: Australian Secretary of Health Jane Halton, details the extent of Freedom of Information requests made by big tobacco and the massive costs involved. See pages 121-22.

Government files High Court defence
February 2012: The Gillard Government has filed its defence against the tobacco industry’s High Court challenge to plain packaging, saying there’s no intention to “acquire” tobacco company brands but merely to restrict their use. Sydney Morning Herald 8/2/12 and Attorney-General Roxon media release 8/2/12 “High Court defence filed”

Top silks to act for Big Tobacco against plain packs
January 2012: Eleven senior counsel will represent tobacco companies in their legal challenge to plain packaging – including top barristers Allan Myers QC, Alan Archibald QC and Bret Walker SC in pre-hearing sessions. Daily Telegraph 24/1/12

UK to launch plain packs consultation
January 2012: UK government expects soon to launch public consultation on mandatory plain tobacco packs, following Australia’s historic enactment of the health policy. ASH Australia director Prof Simon Chapman tells UK health leaders plain packs will help “make smoking history” and “dominos are lining up”. The Guardian 24/1/12 Feb. 2012: UK tobacco giants launch anti-plain packs website including usual discredited claims of “no evidence” and “What next?”

Government accuses Philip Morris of corporate “trick”
December 2012: Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says Philip Morris using “trick” of “corporate restructuring” in its legal challenge to plain packs. Government asks Arbitral Tribunal to reject PM’s case under Australia – Hong Kong Bilateral Investment Treaty, because PMAsia only bought share in Oz operation nearly a year after plain pack policy announced. SMH 22/12/11

Philip Morris International joins in High Court litigation
December 2011: Philip Morris International Inc. joins its Hong Kong subsidiary in suing Australian Government over plain packs. PMI taking action in the High Court, along with other tobacco companies BAT, Imperial and Japan Tobacco. Philip Morris Asia launched arbitration case over the law Nov 2011 under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong. Law360 20/12/11Philip Morris release 20/12/11 JTI joins High Court action: PRNewswire 14/12/11

Roxon will continue plain packs fight as Attorney-General
December 2011: Nicola Roxon, promoted from Health Minister to Australia’s first female Attorney-General, promises to use her legal skills to “take the fight up to big tobacco” to defend plain packs. New Health Minister is Tanya Plibersek, promoted to Cabinet.

UK will begin wide consultation on plain packs
December 2011: The UK government will start a wide-ranging consultation by the end of this year on plain tobacco packaging options, following Australia’s landmark decision. Reuters 6/12/11 New Zealand also keen to move: 3news NZ 12/11/11

Plain pack laws enacted as Big Tobacco sues
December 2011: Australia’s plain packaging legislation has Royal Assent. Preliminaries begin, tobacco companies have a year to comply by December 1, 2012. Minister Roxon says cigarette packs will now be “a stark reminder of the devastating health effects of smoking.” As expected, BAT and Imperial lodge High Court suits – joining Philip Morris, which launched suit in November. Australian 1/12/11

Coalition mostly favoured tobacco industry in parliament debates
December 2011: Hansard transcripts of Australian parliamentary debates on plain packaging from July to November 2011 show Coalition MPs mostly supporting views promoted by the tobacco industry.

Bills passed by Australian Parliament
November 2011: Australia’s tobacco plain packaging bills passed by Parliament, to take full effect December 1, 2012. Philip Morris sues as threatened, though seen by independent legal experts as unlikely to succeed. Philip Morris sues: PM Asia release 21/11/11 Tobacco.org news 21/11/11

NZ “actively considers” following Australia into plain tobacco packaging
November 2011: New Zealand’s government “actively considering” following Australia’s lead and introducing plain tobacco packs. Tobacco industry already threatening the kinds of legal action assessed as “unfounded” and “vexatious” by Australian independent legal experts. 3news NZ 12/11/11

Australian bills passed by Senate
November 2011: Australia’s plain packaging bills pass the Senate – now return to the House of Reps for final rubber stamp. Guardian, 10/11/11 Plain packs “triumph”: ACOSH-PHAA release 10/11/11 Report in Nature 11/11/11

42-NGO call for speedy Senate passage after plain packs delay
November 2011: 42 NGOs urge speedy Senate passage of the plain tobacco packaging bills. Date of full effect has already been delayed five months (see below), after holdups in the Senate. Government pushes Nov 10 Senate vote: Sky News 3/11/11 Date of effect delayed: The Age, Melbourne 2/11/11

Revised timetable for legislation taking effect
November 2011: Federal Government revises timetable after Senate delays. Preliminary stages will now start from Royal Assent (was 1 Jan); offences re Australian manufacture of non-compliant product from 1 Oct 2012 (was 20 May); all tobacco in plain packs from 1 Dec (was 1 July). Plus minor Government amendment to permit rounded corners on inside lip of packs. ASH

Government seeks input on non-cig products and pack warnings
October 2011: Public consultation ends on proposed plain packaging for non-cigarette tobacco products – cigars, cigarillos, roll-your-own, pipe tobacco. Non-cigarette regulations to be finalised before new plain pack laws take effect. Separate review of proposed expanded pack health warnings being undertaken by ACCC after public input ended October 17. Consultation

Australia reassures World Trade Organization on plain packs
October 2011: World Trade Organization debates Australia’s tobacco plain pack bills. Some tobacco-producing countries claim the law would violate TRIPS Agreement obligations, but many countries back overriding public health policy rights. Australia assures WTO members the policy will not violate TRIPS and will be effective in reducing smoking.

Australian bills delayed again
October 2011: Passage of Australia’s Plain Pack bills held up in the Senate in fierce debate over a carbon tax. Health Minister Roxon accuses the Opposition of “delaying tactics” and “playing into the hands of big tobacco” and warns implementation may now be delayed. The Australian 13/10/11

WHO chief slams industry Dirty Tricks against plain packs
October 2011: World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan slams tobacco industry for “dirty tricks” in trying to block tobacco-free policies worldwide, and false claims that plain packs violate international trade obligations. Urges all countries to “stand firm together, do not bow to pressure… we must never allow the tobacco industry to get the upper hand”.

Canada passes larger pack health warnings as world applauds Australia
September 2011: Canada approves bigger graphic health warnings on tobacco packs, as world leaders welcome Australia’s plain packs move. Canada will put graphic warnings on 75% of both front and back of packs by June 2012. Australia is first to adopt plain packs, but Canada along with many other countries has expressed interest in doing so. American Broadcasting Corp report 29/9/11

Tobacco legal challenges “huff and puff” and “largely vexatious”
September 2011: Tobacco industry legal case against plain packs dismissed as “huff and puff” by Health Minister, “vexatious” by legal experts. Minister Roxon rejects industry threats, quotes expert opinions that the bills align with international law. ANU expert in intellectual property law tells Senate inquiry tobacco industry threats “largely vexatious”, bills consistent with Australian laws, treaty commitments; Big Tobacco claims for compensation billions “outlandish”, “greedy” in light of its “untold damage” to health. ANU release 14/9/11

BATA exploits refugee controversy to question plain pack legality
September 2011: BAT Australia places full-page ads in major newspapers exploiting legal controversy over refugee policy to cast doubt on legality of plain tobacco packaging bills. The ad asks “Is the government’s legal advice on shaky ground?”

BATA challenges bills in High Court
September 2011: British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) applies for special leave to appeal in the High Court to gain access to government legal advice on the plain pack bills. BATA warns it will immediately mount a High Court challenge to the bills if passed by the Senate. BATA release 5/9/11

Lower house passes landmark bills
August 2011: Australia’s House of Representatives passes both Tobacco Plain Packaging bills. All parties and independents supported the main bill; the Liberal/National parties opposed the Trade Marks bill, which was referred to a Senate inquiry. House of Reps Hansard proof 24/8/11 - pp. 22-99 with voting at pp. 98-99. The Plain Packs bill was supported unanimously. A Liberal amendment to allow some trademarks on smaller surfaces was defeated, and the Trade Marks Bill supported, in both cases by majorities of 5 – the ALP, Greens, independents Oakeshott, Wilkie and Windsor, and Independent WA National Crook all combining to defeat the Liberal/National Parties; Independent Katter not present or abstaining.

Leading Australians back plain packs
August 2011: 260 health and medical professors including four Australians of the Year write to Federal MPs urging them to end the long delay and pass the plain packaging bills. The Australian 24/8/11 and Cancer Council Australia media release 24/8/11

Inquiry endorses plain packs: now get on with it, say health groups
August 2011: ASH Australia and Heart Foundation welcome House of Representatives inquiry report endorsing pack bills – and urge parliament to get on with passing them. After lengthy public consultation and the inquiry, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Ageing unanimously recommends passage of both bills.

… but Senate sends trademarks bill to further inquiry
August 2011: The Senate sends one of the Plain Packs bills to yet another inquiry – this time to check constitutionality. The Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Bill 2011 amends theTrade Marks Act 1995 to allow regulations on plain packaging so businesses are not prevented from registering or protecting trademarks.

The Opposition gives its support for the substantive Plain Packaging Bill, but not the Trade Marks Bill – saying it is “unnecessary”. Sydney Morning Herald 17/8/11

Public support for plain packs down but still ahead
August 2011: Public support for plain packaging has been eroded by the tobacco industry’s multi-million dollar mass media scare campaign – but at 48% is still well ahead of opposition (38%) says Newspoll survey. The Australian 20/8/11

Tobacco loses bid to see government’s privileged legal advice
August 2011: BAT and Philip Morris fail in legal actions to gain access to government legal advice on plain packs, ruled legally privileged by the Admin Appeals Tribunal and Federal Court.
Philip Morris lost its action in the AAT, which ruled the advice legally privileged and no overriding public interest in revealing it.
AAT decision 15/8/11 in Philip Morris Limited v Prime Minister [2011] AATA 556 on FOI application by PML June 2010 for access to documents held by Prime Minister’s office. BATA was joined as party to PMI’s appeal to the AAT; but Full Federal Court appeal lodged by BATA alone, seeking access to 1995 legal advice held by Dept of Health and Ageing – Bloomberg news 3/8/11 … this appeal was also lost – Federal Court decision published 23/8/11. BAT “disappointed”, may appeal to High Court – Melbourne Age 23/8/11

Indonesia, Mexico complain plain packaging will “hurt trade”

August 2011: Indonesia and Mexico submissions to Australian parliamentary inquiry complain that mandatory plain tobacco packs are “unnecessarily restrictive” and a “barrier” to their tobacco trade.

BAT bull, bullying, bluff and bafflement in plain pack hearing

August 2011: British American Tobacco Australia chief David Crow tells parliament hearing proposed plain packs timetable “impossible”, will cause shortages, feed black markets. Health leaders say industry “bluffing” after years of warning. Melbourne Age, 5/8/11 Also addressing House of Reps committee: National Preventative Health Agency, Health Dept, health groups – who outline worldwide evidence, warn tobacco industry claims can’t be trusted.

Roxon stands up to Big Tobacco
Health Minister’s gutsy fight with the tobacco industry to introduce plain packaging
Australian Financial Review Magazine feature 29/7/11

National survey of illicit tobacco use shows industry claims fanciful
July 2011: National government survey of over 26,000 contradicts tobacco industry claims on extent of illicit tobacco. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows only 1.5% of smokers use loose unbranded “chop chop” more than half the time, only 4.9% use at all (down from 6.1% in 2007); just 4.6% of smokers believe they may have bought counterfeit cigs even once a month. Demolishes tobacco industry claim that 16% (and rising) of tobacco sold in Australia is illicit.
2010 AIHW survey

Big Tobacco misleads retailers; offers Fiji hols for pushing
July 2011: Some retailers are concerned at misleading flyers distributed to them by Imperial Tobacco urging them to protest about plain packs to current House of Representatives inquiry. Meanwhile BAT Australia criticised by ASH for offering Fiji holidays to retailers pushing tobacco.

Australia’s plain packaging legislation introduced
July 2011: Australia’s world-first legislation to fully mandate plain packaging of tobacco by July 2012 is introduced to parliament – expected to pass both houses of parliament later in the year. ABC news report 6/7/11

NZ backs Australia over plain packs move
June 2011: New Zealand government supports Australia’s move to mandate plain tobacco packs, hopes to follow suit. Assoc. Health Minister Tariana Turia is “very supportive of Australia’s initiative and it is our expectation that New Zealand will inevitably follow their lead.” stuff.co.nz report 29/6/11

Tobacco industry continues bull and bullying against bill
June 2011: As the Australian government prepares to introduce legislation after public consultation, the tobacco industry continues to mislead and threaten in its bid to derail the key health policy.

  • Philip Morris launches legal action against the government, claiming the bills breach a 1993 Australia-Hong Kong bilateral trade agreement. Philip Morris release 27/6/11 Australian 27/6/11 Philip Morris suit “frivolous treaty shopping”: ANU legal experts Canberra Times, 28/6/11
  • Imperial Tobacco launches “No Nanny State” campaign: media ads, website, MP postcardsand lifesized cutouts carpet-bombed into retailers nationwide. “Nanny State” line ignoresevidenceshowing plain packs will discourage uptake by children – main source of smoking recruitment. Nanny State” pure fairytale: SMH online 28/6/11
  • British American Tobacco pushes for delay – 1/7/12 start date “unworkable”, “unrealistic” says BAT submission to consultation. Australian 8/6/11BAT launches Illicit Tobacco site with inflated, fanciful “costs” of illicit trade to individual electorates – drawn from flawed Deloittes report commissioned by Big Tobacco. See critique of report

Coalition backs plain packs bill as Minister wins world awards

May 2011: Liberal leader Tony Abbott says Opposition will not oppose plain packs bill – will move amendments but not oppose the bill if they fail. ABC news 31/5/11Multipartisan support “breath of fresh air, especially for children”: ASH, 42 NGOs.

Also on World No Tobacco Day (May 31), Health Minister Nicola Roxon wins world (WHO) and Australian (Nigel Gray) tobacco control awards for her stand on plain packaging and other health policies.

Plain packs focus eyes on health warnings: study

May 2011: UK study of eye movements of non-and-occasional smokers shows they’re more likely to look at health warnings on plain than branded packs. For less frequent smokers (e.g. children, quitters), plain packs “increase visual attention towards health warning information and away from brand information.”

Support for plain packs outnumbers opposition by over 2:1
May 2011: Public support for plain tobacco packaging withstands tobacco industry’s multi-million mass media onslaught. Community support still outnumbers opposition by more than 2:1, 59% to 24%, says Newspoll phone survey of 1200 Australians. ABC News 29/5/11

Malaysia lobbied to derail Australian bills
May 2011: A high-powered US consultant linked to the tobacco industry has lobbied Malaysia to oppose Australia’s plain packaging laws, and powerful US congressmen are helping the industry use its “global economic power” to block the world-first bill. ABC news report 26/5/11

Australia leading the war on tobacco, says WHO regional chief
May 2011: Australia’s plain packaging bill “would set new global standards and encourage governments in the Asia Pacific Region to also get tough with the tobacco industry” says the WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Director Dr Shin Young-Soo. ABC The Drum opinion 26/5/11

Three Coalition MPs support plain packs bill – pressure grows on Abbott

May 2011: Three Coalition MPs say they’ll cross the floor to vote for the plain packs bill, putting pressure on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to ensure multi-partisan support. Other Liberal MPs expected to follow suit. Ken Wyatt later says he might not cross; but WA independent National MP Tony Crook weigh in, so still 3 coalition MPs support. SMH 24/5/11

Research review shows two decades of evidence for plain packs

May 2011: Review of two decades of plain packs research oshows they’ll improve effectiveness of health warnings, reduce misconceptions and appeal, especially to children. Quit/Cancer Council Vic review also finds no legal barriers; tobacco industry claims on illicit trade “exaggerated and misleading.” Evidence review 2011

Minister: We won’t be intimidated by false tobacco trade law claims
May 2011: Trade Minister Craig Emerson blasts tobacco companies’ “false” claims plain packs would breach trade agreements. Australia “won’t be threatened or intimidated by big tobacco” or “subjugate… national sovereignty in any trade agreement.”

Victorian Liberal government joins NSW to back plain tobacco packs
May 2011: Victorian government declares support for mandatory plain packs. SkyNews 18/5/11
Joins NSW Coalition government – declared support on May 6.

World-first draft legislation tabled

April 2011: ASH Australia and many others welcome world-first plain pack bill as lifesaving policy to end marketing of disease in glossy boxes. Draft bill would mandate generic packaging of all tobacco products by July 2012. AAP/SMH report 7/4/11 ASH congratulates Minister, Government for putting health first; urges all parties to support.

Minister recommits to plain packaging policy
Feb. 2011: Health Minister Roxon says government “absolutely determined” to mandate plain packs by July 2012. Roxon on ABC Lateline 13/9/10 Minister says other countries look to Australia; tobacco industry fights “tooth and nail” but “inevitable”. Sydney Morning Herald 15/10/10

Health groups’ counter-campaign
August 2010: Health groups hit back, asking “Who’s pulling the strings?” in ad campaign countering the tobacco industry ads. See health groups’ counter-ad ABC-TV “Gruen Transfer” discussion on YouTube

World-first legislation flagged
April 2010: Australian government announces plain packaging of tobacco products to take full effect by July 2012 – first country in the world to set a deadline. See below, BACKGROUND Tobacco companies immediately launch mass media campaign against it. See below, TOBACCO INDUSTRY

Preventative Health Taskforce recommends plain packaging
2009: Taskforce report says Australia should adopt mandatory plain packaging and larger health warnings. Action Area 5, pp. 181-5 of NPHT 2009 report tobacco chapter

Youth call for plain packaging
2009: Youth groups call for plain packaging of tobacco products on National Youth Tobacco Free Day.

AUSTRALIAN BACKGROUND

After a recommendation from the 2009 report of Australia’s National Preventative Health Taskforce, on April 29, 2010 the Australian government announced plain packaging of tobacco products would be fully implemented by July 2012. Australia was the first country in the world to set a deadline. ASH Australia and others hailed the decision as a major step in the fight against tobacco. Government announcement

Health Minister Roxon and then-PM Rudd announce the plain pack commitment, 29/4/10

In the leadup to Australia’s 2010 federal elections, the three major tobacco companies (BAT, Philip Morris, Imperial) poured $5m into a misleading mass media ad campaign against plain packs, fronted by hastily-formed “Australian Alliance of Retailers” (AAR). Six Australians of the Year condemned the campaign, urged all parties to honour July 2012 deadline commitment. ALP and Greens reaffirmed support; Liberal/National parties agreed to “consider” it.

Meanwhile the campaign split the retail sector. Major supermarket Coles dissociated themselves from it. Daily Telegraph 11/8/10 Woolworths followed, repudiating retail groups’ “deceptive behaviour”; one umbrella group, Australian Association of Convenience Stores, also withdrew.

Health groups including ASH wrote to ACCC objecting to the “misleading and deceptive” campaign; noted AAR hastily formed with sole shareholder and sham address, and tobacco industry, not small retailers, were the driving force. Melbourne Age 14/8/10

Early history

1990: Seventh World Conference on Tobacco or Health, Perth, Conference Resolutions included:
Generic Packaging: Given the importance of package designs in promoting tobacco products, this Conference endorses the concept of mandatory generic packaging of all tobacco products, and urges all countries to include generic packaging in their tobacco control legislation.
Ref: Durston B, Jamrozik K (eds). Proceedings of the Seventh World Conference on Tobacco and Health, April 1990. Conference Resolutions, 1990;965–966.

WORLD NEWS
See also History of Plain Packaging: world timeline from 1986-present

Scotland commits to plain packs
April 2013: The Scottish government has committed to introduce mandatory plain pacvkaging of tobacco as part of a commitment to reduce smoking to under 5% by 2034. Scotsman 2/4/13
UK report: “no good evidence” plain packs boost illegal tobacco
March 2013: All-party UK parliamentary inquiry rejects tobacco industry claims, finds “no good evidence… that standardised packaging will lead to an increase in illicit trade.” Makes similar finding on tax increases and other tobacco control policies.. UK inquiry report – see summary pp. 8-10

Tobacco company’s UK anti-plain pack ad “misleading”

March 2013: Anti-plain packaging ads produced by UK tobacco company Gallaher, owned by Japan Tobacco, have been found guilty of misleading advertising. The ads, run last year, were challenged by UK health groups in the Advertising Standards Authority. Yahoo news 13/3/13

NZ will mandate plain packs

February 2013: The New Zealand government will legislate this year for mandatory plain tobacco packaging legislation, but may delay implementation pending outcome of World Trade Organization challenges. The announcement by Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia follows a public consultation in 2012 including more than 20,000 submissions. Tobacco industry makes usual threats of dire consequences.

UK tobacco industry wheels in big guns to lobby against plain packs

December 2012: UK health campaigners are concerned about the tobacco industry employing two powerful lobbying companies to mastermind their fight against plain packs, now under review by the UK government after a public consultation. One of the firms, Crosby Textor, also employed by the Conservative Party and with links to the Liberal Party of Australia, ran the tobacco industry’s unsuccessful campaign against plain packs in Australia.Guardian Weekly 2/12/12

EU working on plain packs proposal

August 2012: The European Union “working on a proposal” that might see plain packaging of tobacco made compulsory across Europe, following Australia’s defeat of a tobacco industry legal challenge. France24news 16/8/12

UK consultation ends

August 2012: UK government’s public consultation on mandatory plain tobacco packaging ends. The inquiry will now report to the government. Guardian 10/8/12 UK government consultation siteASH Australia director Prof Simon Chapman tells UK health leaders plain packs will help “make tobacco history”.

India considers plain packs

July 2012: India’s Health Department is pushing for mandatory plain tobacco packaging to increase the impact of recently introduced graphic packet health warnings. An expert Australian report has told the Indian government that plain packaging can help reduce youth smoking. Zeenews 23/7/12

NZ launches plain packs consultation
July 2012: On the heels of Australia’s plain packaging move and UK’s consultation, New Zealand launches public consultation on mandatory plain tobacco packaging. NZ Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says it’s logical next step and feels confident it can be done. TVNZ/OneNews 23/7/12 International submissions welcome until October 5 at NZ plain packs consultation

Dominican Republic joins WTO challenge
July 2012: The Dominican Republic has joined Ukraine and Honduras in challenging Australia’s plain packaging laws in the World Trade Organization. The tobacco industry has encouraged tobacco-growing countries to mount the challenge. SMH 20/7/12

Powerful tobacco allies fund world campaign to block plain packs
July 2012: Powerful US corporate alliance with tobacco, climate denial and Tea Party links is funding world campaign to derail plan packs. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) now targeting UK, where government has extended public consultation deadline to end-August. Guardian UK 15/7/12

UK plain packs consultation opens

April 2012: The UK government has opened its public consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco. Public input opened on April 16, set to closes July 10 (later extended to end-August). Health Department also commissioned independent review of evidence. UK consultation site

Europe considers plain pack reform
April 2012: The European Commission is considering making plain tobacco packaging mandatory across Europe. Australia’s Ambassador to EU Dr Brendan Nelson hopes the Australian reform will encourage Europe to follow. Euronews report

British PM promises tobacco-connected advisers won’t influence plain packs policy

March 2012: UK Prime Minister David Cameron promises a recently-appointed adviser with tobacco industry connections won’t influence government decisions on tobacco plain packaging. Industry apologist John Luik has been given a government advisory post, but the PM says he won’t be involved in plain packs policy currently under review. Independent 13/3/12

Tobacco uses think tank mouthpiece to push plain packs objections

February 2012: Tobacco industry uses right-wing think-tanks in UK to push anti-plain packaging line – as it did in Australia. Report by Adam Smith Institute uses standard tobacco industry arguments of “no benefit to health, will boost illicit trade, will set dangerous trademark precedent”. ASI partly funded by tobacco industry. ASH UK release 20/2/12 NB: ASH Australia not affiliated with ASH UK

Australia outlines treaty obligations

2011: Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon explains how the plain pack law will “give effect” to obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), including:

– Article 5 requires signatories to develop/implement comprehensive national tobacco control strategies, programs; effective legislative, other measures to prevent/reduce tobacco consumption, addiction, smoke exposure.

– Article 11 requires effective measures to ensure packaging does not promote tobacco by being false or misleading about characteristics, health effects, hazards, emissions.

– Article 13 requires comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, sponsorship.

Guidelines adopted by Conference of the Parties to the FCTC for Article 11 and Article 13 recommend governments consider introducing plain packaging. Ministerial memo Nov 2011

Australia reassures World Trade Organization on plain packs
2011: World Trade Organization debates Australia’s plain pack bills. Tobacco-producing countries claim it violates TRIPS Agreement by stopping tobacco companies using trademarks, “hurting poor farmers”; would “make counterfeiting easier”, or “cut costs and lower prices”. But see EVIDENCEOther countries support Australia’s stand for nations’ health policy rights. WHO outlines global issue, says plain packs in line with Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Issue also raised in Technical Barriers to Trade Committee. WTO minutes 24-15/10/11

WHO chief slams industry Dirty Tricks against plain packs
2011: World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan slams tobacco industry “dirty tricks” against tobacco-free policies worldwide, and false claim Australian plain pack bills violate international trade obligations. Urges countries: “stand firm together, do not bow to pressure… we must never allow the tobacco industry to get the upper hand”. AFP report 11/10/11

Canada passes packet warning increase as world applauds Australia
2011: Canada approves bigger graphic pack health warnings; world leaders welcome Australia’s plain pack move. Canada to put graphic warnings on 75% of both front and back of packs by June 2012. Canada and others reported to be watching Australia’s reform closely. ABC (US) 29/9/11

Malaysia lobbied to derail Australian bills
2011: High-powered US consultant linked to the tobacco industry lobbies Malaysia to oppose Australia’s initiative; powerful US congressmen helping the industry use its “global economic power” to block the world-first bill. ABC news report 26/5/11

Australia leading the war on tobacco, says WHO regional chief
2011: Australia’s plain packaging bill “would set new global standards and encourage governments in the Asia Pacific Region to also get tough with the tobacco industry” says WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Director Dr Shin Young-Soo. ABC The Drum opinion 26/5/11

Summary of worldwide progress on plain packs

Australia Australian news
2012: World-first plain legislation takes full effect by 1 December 2012 after High Court rejects tobacco industry constitutional challenge. Tobacco industry challenges continue under trade treaty and in World Trade Organization but are not expected to succeed.

Belgium (see also under Europe)
2011: Belgian Health Minister, in response to a question in parliament, expresses support for plain packaging, including at European Union level. French and Dutch only, pp. 19-20 at Belgian parliament

Europe
2012: European Union “working on a proposal” that might see plain packaging of tobacco made compulsory across Europe, following Australia’s defeat of a tobacco industry legal challenge. France24news 16/8/12 Several European countries reported as considering plain packs – see also under individual countries. Melbourne Age 16/8/12

France (see also under Europe)
2010: Introduced into National Assembly by member Yves Bur, bill…to establish plain and standardized packaging for cigarettes outlines specifications, Health Minister to clarify. French Bill

India
2012: Tobacco control taskforce and Indian Health Dept urge mandatory plain packaging to increase impact of new graphic pack health warnings. The Conversation 5/9/12 and Zeenews 23/7/12

New Zealand
Feb. 2013: Government says it will legislate 2013 for plain packs but may delay implementation pending results of World Trade Organization challenges to Australian laws. NZ Herald 19/2/13
NZ plain packs consultation
and Submissions Tobacco industry as usual threatens legal action.
3news.co.nz report 12/11/11 NZ Parliament Maori Affairs Committee 2010 report – see pp. 16-18

Norway
2012: Norway reported considering plain packaging. Age 15/8/12

Turkey
2011: Turkey’s government reported considering plain packs legislation – Health Minister Recep Akdag asks regulators to work with WHO towards beginning technical studies. Bloomberg News 7/9/11

United Kingdom (see also under Europe)
2013: UK government considers legislation after public consultation 2012. Seen as likely to approve plain packs, announcement expected May 2013. RTE news 6/3/13 UK government consultation siteUK plan and more details UK Public Health Consortium report 2012 2010 White Paper

EVIDENCE AND RESOURCES

The Australian legislation

The two Australian Acts introduced July 2011, passed November 2011:
Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011

and Trademarks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Act 2011

This followed submissions to public consultation, May-June 2011 – many supportive submissions from individuals, governments, health, medical and child protection/welfare organisations including: ASH Australia Protecting Children from Tobacco coalition (42 NGOs)
World Health Organization Tasmanian Government
… and many individuals, including Anita Lorenz who wrote:

Time to stop mincing words – anyone who makes any profit from tobacco, right along the supply chain, needs to be made to understand that they are dealers of death the same as any other drug dealer.

About the laws:
Dept of Health and Ageing toll-free complaints hotline: 1800 062 971
or email ppcomplaints@health.gov.au Information on the tobacco plain packaging laws

The Department has information to retailers on complying with the new laws. Good factsheets with illustrations available in English, Cantonese, French, Korean, Bengali, Arabic, Mandarin, Urdu, Farsi-Persian, Vietnamese, Hindi. DoHA plain packs info for retailers

Tobacco Facts: Plain Packaging of Tobacco - ASH Australia’s 2 page factsheet, 2012

Plain packaging evidence review – two decades of independent research, May 2011

Plain packaging: the facts - Cancer Council Victoria

Cancer Council Australia position statement

Quit ad: you can’t hide the harm
December 2012: Mass media quit smoking campaign makes the point that whatever you do to cover the packet, you can’t hide the health harm. Quit ad 19/12/12

Tobacco industry claims vs independent research evidence

Tobacco industry claim 1: “Plain packaging will boost illicit trade”
2012: In run-up to plain pack laws coming into force, Deloitte report commissioned by BAT, Philip Morris and Imperial claims counterfeit/contraband tobacco, fuelled by pack reform, has tripled in a year, costing a billion in lost tax. Telegraph, Sydney 3/5/12 Deloitte report May 2012 and Deloitte report Feb 2011BAT testimony to Australian parliament

Independent evidence:

UK report: “no good evidence” plain packs boost illegal tobacco
March 2013: All-party UK parliamentary inquiry after reviewing worldwide evidence rejects tobacco industry claims, finds “no good evidence… that standardised packaging will lead to an increase in illicit trade.” Makes similar finding on tax increases and other tobacco control policies.

More:

– “No good evidence” of plain packs illicit impact, says UK inquiry report – see summary pp. 8-10

– Quit Vic critique
of Deloitte survey
– 2012 study finds packaging has no impact on consumer intention to buy counterfeit tobacco.
Abstract
- National government survey of 26,000+ Australians shatters tobacco industry claims on extent of illicit tobacco. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows only 1.5% of smokers use loose unbranded “chop chop” more than half the time; only 4.9% use it at all (down from 6.1% in 2007); just 4.6% of smokers think they may have bought counterfeit cigs even once a month. Contradicts industry claims that one in “5 or 6″ cigs sold in Australia is illicit.
- 2011 study of young adults in European Journal of Public Health says plain packs will not boost illicit trade. Abstract

Tobacco industry claim 2: “Plain packaging will slow transaction times”

March 2013: Survey of 450 tobacco retailers, commissioned by Philip Morris, finds most retailers believe plain packaging has slowed their transaction times. Australian 7/3/13

Independent evidence:

Plain packaging makes retail transactions faster
February 2013: Survey of tobacco transaction times in 100 varied Perth suburban retail outlets before and after plain packaging took effect on 1/12/12. Finds more retailers reduced than increased transaction times. Authors suggest re current UK considerations: “If they sincerely represent the best interests of their members and support the future health of British citizens, national retail groups should immediately withdraw their objections to generic tobacco packaging.”
Study
confirms earlier 2011 study

Legal arguments

October 2012: Australia’s High Court rejects four tobacco companies’ legal challenge to plain packaging laws, saying the legislation is not unconstitutional. The companies are ordered to pay the government’s costs. Philip Morris pledges to continue international challenges after losing High Court constitutional case. The company says it will continue its Bilateral Investment Treaty action and its support for three countries’ challenge in the World Trade Organization. Philip Morris release 15/8/12

2012: High Court hearings on constitutional challenge by tobacco companies against Australia’s plain pack legislation. Court now considers its verdict. Guardian UK 20/4/12 Transcripts of pre-hearing submissions and hearings here – see especially Feb and April under BAT, Philip Morris, ITA, JTA

2012: What “right” do companies have to their trademarks? What is the purpose of a trademark? To maximise public wellbeing, not profits, say experts. Comment in Australian Financial review 19/4/12 by Dr Russell Thomson and Prof Beth Webster

2012: Ukraine complains to the World Trade Organization, claiming Australia’s plain pack laws violate global intellectual property rules. But Australia “prepared to defend any challenge” to its landmark legislation, says Trade Minister. Bloomberg/SMH 15/3/12 Text of Ukraine’s WTO complaint (WT/DS434/1) here Ukraine has not traded with Australia since 2005. The complaint’s source is unknown, but suspicions of tobacco industry involvement – later verified. SMH 27/3/12 Analysis of Ukraine’s complaint by legal expert Benn McGrady at O’Neill Institute trade blog 20/3/12 Philip Morris, BAT later admit to funding the WTO challenges. Financial Times 29/4/12

2012: Philip Morris’ Hong-Kong-based legal challenge is a “dead parrot” writes Monash Law Professor and trademark expert Mark Davison. The Conversation 20/1/12

2012: Australia’s plain tobacco packaging laws have a good prospect of resisting tobacco industry legal challenges, say independent legal experts. JAMA paper

2011: “World is no longer Big Tobacco’s ashtray” – industry’s legal tactics analysed by Prof Simon Chapman, University of Sydney, on ABC Radio National’s Law Report. ABC The Drum opinion 24/11/11
2011: Tobacco industry legal arguments against plain packs rejected by Australia’s Health Minister Roxon – says industry legal threats “huff and puff”, quotes legal experts’ opinions that the legislation aligns with international law. Minister release 14/9/11 The experts include A/Prof Matthew Rimmer, ANU intellectual property law specialist – tells Senate inquiry the industry legal threats “largely vexatious”; bills consistent with Australian laws, treaty commitments; industry claims for billions in compensation “outlandish”, “greedy” in light of its “untold damage” to health. ANU release 14/9/11
2011: Tobacco industry legal claims against the plain packaging legislation are assessed by Melbourne University legal experts in a paper called “Time to Quit? Assessing International Investment Claims Against Plain Tobacco Packaging in Australia”. Abstract

2010: Anti-plain pack legal arguments by tobacco-linked Institute of Public Affairs think-tank hammered in 2010 Melbourne Uni debate by world intellectual property law expert Prof Mark Davison – he concludes “They haven’t got a case.” Prof Davison’s earlier comments, Melbourne Age 4/5/10

History

Key events timeline
The whole story of the battle for plain packs – from its first proposal in 1990.

From brand to bland – the demise of cigarette packaging
2011: Excellent article in British Medical Journal by Sydney University’s Prof Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman puts it in a nutshell with good references. BMJ article 18/7/11

History of Plain Packaging: world timeline from 1986-present
Great dot-point history resource from Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada.

Public opinion
Support for plain packs outnumbers opposition by over 2:1
2011: Australian public support for plain packaging withstands Big Tobacco’s multi-million dollar mass media onslaught. Community support still outnumbers opposition by over 2:1, says Newspoll phone survey of 1200+. It shows 59% approval to just 24% disapproval. ABC News 29/5/11

Plain packs have strong public support – including smokers
2011 survey of 4,500 Victorians shows very strong support for mandatory plain packs. 72% of all people – and 57% of smokers. Quit release 8/4/11 2008 NSW survey showed even higher support: 78%. Walsh R et al (2008) Aust N Z Public Health. 32:482-8 doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2008.00284.x

Plain Pack Attack shoots tobacco industry in the foot
2011 survey shows tobacco-funded “retailer” ads increased plain pack support. Quit release 3/11

Other research

Plain packs plainly a success

November 2012: Three leading lights of the push for plain packaging assess the policy on the eve of its coming into full effect on December 1, 2012. Professors Mike Daube, Rob Moodie and Simon Chapman say in an editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia: “There is much work ahead, but this is also a time to take pride in a stunning success for public health.” MJA 12/11/19

Plain tobacco packaging: a systematic review
November 2012: UK review by Public Health Research Consortium of 37 studies on the impacts of plain packs. Key findings:

… strong evidence to support the propositions set out in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control…. that plain packaging would reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products, it would increase the noticeability and effectiveness of health warnings and messages, and it would reduce the use of design techniques that may mislead consumers about the harmfulness of tobacco products. In addition…. plain packaging is perceived by both smokers and non-smokers to reduce initiation among non-smokers and cessation-related behaviours among smokers.
Final report 2012
and more about the Public Health Research Consortium

Biggest impact will be on children
2012: Professor Simon Chapman critiques former Liberal adviser Peter van Onselen on the likely economic impact of plain packs – and argues its impact will be especially on child uptake, which may emerge slowly. ABC24 Drum opinion 18/7/12 and see wide-ranging comments
Study confirms wisdom of standardising stick design
March 2012: New Australia plain pack laws will also standardise cigarette stick design – wise move, confirmed by Australian research showing this is a factor in brand appeal. Authors conclude “comprehensive policy to eliminate promotional aspects of cigarette design and packaging needs to include rules about stick design.” Abstract
Plain packs focus eyes on health warnings: study

2011: Study of eye movement shows non-/less frequent smokers (e.g. children, would-be quitters) more likely to look at health warnings on plain than branded packs. Plain packaging “appears to increase visual attention towards health warning… away from brand information.” Abstract Guardian 30/5/11
Two decades of evidence for plain packs: research review

2011: 20-year Australian review of research on plain packaging shows it improves effectiveness of health warnings; reduces misconceptions and appeal, especially to children. Quit/Cancer Council Vic review of published studies also finds no trademark or other legal barriers; tobacco industry claims about illicit trade “exaggerated and misleading.” Evidence review 2011

Coloured packs mislead smokers: study

2011: 20% of smokers wrongly believe some tobacco brands safer than others, says four-country study including 2000 Australians. Over 40% still wrongly believe contents of lighter coloured packs less harmful. Study in Addiction journal boosts case for plain packs. Addiction release 12/4/11

Plain packs influence teens: study
2010: Plain tobacco packs discourage teens from smoking, says Auckland Uni findings presented at 2010 regional conference in Sydney. Study of 14-15-year-olds shows plain packs highlight health warnings, reduce social appeal. APACT conference release 7/10/10

Pack colours and design mislead smokers
2009: Colours of cigarette packs can mislead smokers into thinking certain brands are less harmful, says study. Full study pdf Sydney Morning Herald report 5/8/09

Industry’s “whiff of desperation” as plain packs take hold
January 2013: Comment by Prof Simon Chapman on encouraging early signs of plain packaging on smokers. SMH op ed 8/1/13

Kids see packs as “a wonderland of happiness”
2012: Cancer Research UK’s “The answer is plain” campaign includes a must-see video of children looking at and talking about something in enthusiastic terms…. then we realise they’re viewing current UK tobacco packs. Campaign and video

Preventative Health Taskforce recommends plain packaging
2009 Taskforce report says Australia should adopt mandatory plain packaging and larger health warnings. Action Area 5, pp. 181-5 of NPHT 2009 report tobacco chapter

Tobacco packaging and labelling
International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease comprehensive 2009 guide including health warnings, misleading packaging, plain packaging, evidence, legislation and implementation.

Study shows how industry bluffed Canadian, Australian governments
Tobacco industry claims plain packaging will interfere with their branding rights – but 2008 study shows this is a bid to bluff governments. See also response 5/3/10 by ASH director Prof Simon Chapman

The case for plain packaging of tobacco
Sydney University 2007 report with illustrations

 

TOBACCO INDUSTRY’S “PLAIN PACK ATTACK”

See also above under AUSTRALIAN NEWS and WORLDWIDE DEVELOPMENTS

“Despite having a long-standing fondness for the gaspers, and a firm belief that adults should be free to do whatever they like, I don’t ever think I have heard such nonsense in my life.”
Long-time smoker David Penberthy’s comment, Adelaide Advertiser 17/6/11

Tobacco company’s UK anti-plain pack ad “misleading”

March 2013: Anti-plain packaging ads produced by UK tobacco company Gallaher, owned by Japan Tobacco, have been found guilty of misleading advertising. The ads, run last year, were challenged by UK health groups in the Advertising Standards Authority. Yahoo news 13/3/13

Tobacco retailers complain of slower transactions despite evidence

March 2013: Survey of 450 tobacco retailers, commissioned by Philip Morris, finds most retailers believe plain packaging has slowed their transaction times. Australian 7/3/13 Contradicted by independent evidence that the change has actually speeded up selling times. Curtin Uni survey of measured tobacco transaction times in 100 varied Perth suburban retail outlets – before and after plain packaging took effect on 1/12/12 – finds more retailers reduced than increased transaction times. Authors (re current UK consultation): “If they sincerely represent the best interests of their members and support the future health of British citizens, national retail groups should immediately withdraw their objections to generic tobacco packaging.” Studyconfirms 2011 study
Tobacco giants threaten NZ over plain packs

February 2013: “Big 3″ tobacco companies in New Zealand threaten New Zealand government after announcement that it will legislate for mandatory plain packs. They repeat discredited arguments that plain packs won’t benefit health, will cause lost trade/jobs, boost illicit tobacco and breach intellectual property and trade rights. Responses 19/2/13 from Philip Morris BATNZ and Imperial

Tobacco giants spent $14m in fight against plain packs

February 2013: Tobacco industry spent around $14m in its fight against plain packaging in Australia. ABC analysis of funding disclosures shows $9m was spent by BAT and Philip Morris to bankroll the Alliance of Australian Retailers campaign; plus an extra $4m media spend by Imperial, a further $500,000 by Philip Morris on media, and smaller amounts. ABC news 1/2/13

Liberal Senator linked with tobacco and gun lobby groups

January 2013: Key Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi linked with powerful American Legislative Exchange Council and Heartland Institute – both lobby groups connected with campaigns against tobacco and gun regulation. The Senator, former Parliamentary Secretary hand-picked by Opposition Leader Abbott and just re-endorsed to head Liberals’ SA Senate ticket, had four US trips paid by the groups, some around the time of its High Court challenge against plain packs and aggressive lobbying of the Australian Government not to proceed with it. He opposed one of the plain pack bills in parliament in 2011. Senator Bernardi defends not declaring the links, denying they create a conflict of interest. AAP/Australian 27/1/13

Still a “bad law”
says bad loser BAT
November 2012: After losing its High Court challenge, BAT’s Scott McIntyre whinges to retailers in 4-pageConvenience World trade mag article that plain packaging is still a “bad law”, which…will cause unintended damage… will only benefit organized crime… illegal cigarette black market will grow further… [all this will] put pressure on the industry to reduce legal tobacco prices… [which will] cause further harm to the health of Australians… [and cause retailers] significant increase in the time taken to complete a transaction… [which will] cost businesses up to an estimated half a billion dollars… the equivalent of 15,000 jobs.Convenience World, Issue Seven 2012Note the transaction (and hence costs/jobs) claim has since been demolished by independent study

Tobacco industry skirts plain pack law to brink of deadline

November 2012: Tobacco giant BAT forced to remove non-compliant markings from its cigarettes on eve of plain pack deadline December 1. Three-letter markings indicating cities criticised by Health Minister Plibersek as “trying to push the boundaries”. ABC News 29/11/12

Industry’s deceptive bucketing of Australian legislation in UK consultation

September 2012: “Big 3” tobacco company submissions to UK plain packs consultation claim Australian legislation violates intellectual property rights, trade obligations (not substantiated by any legal decision); quote Deloittes reports and supportive thinktanks without acknowledging these are funded by the TI; quote Australian ministers and politicians out of context; reject worldwide evidence on likely impact of plain packs on youth smoking/uptake, put forward 20-year-old research to downplay packaging impact. Excerpts from Philip Morris, BAT, Imperial submissions to UK consultation with links to full submissions

Big 3 plain packs response: reassurance, more descriptors, subliminal ploys, protest
September 2012: In leadup to plain packaging laws starting to take effect from Oct. 2012, big 3 tobacco companies launch new packaging and briefings to retailers. BAT has no less than 38 descriptors on its brands. All companies reassure unchanged “quality”, advise retailers to comply. Philip Morris urges continued protest. An Imperial brand makes shrewd subliminal connection with plain pack design. BAT, Imperial flyers sent to retailers, and Philip Morris pack inserts, at ASH PACKWATCH
Tobacco giants will fight on, warn of “unintended consequences”
August 2012: Philip Morris vows to pursue international challenges to plain packs after losing High Court constitutional case. The company will continue its Bilateral Investment Treaty legal action and support for three countries’ World Trade Organization challenges. Philip Morris release 15/8/12BAT Australia, disappointed with High Court decision, warns “serious unintended consequences start 1 December”, repeating discredited predictions of increased crime and costs. BATA release 15/8/12 Imperial Tobacco also expresses disappointment, rehashes dire illicit trade warnings and mentions the WTO challenges. Imperial Tobacco release 15/8/12 (not online as at 16/8/12)

Dominican Republic joins WTO challenge
July 2012: Dominican Republic joins Ukraine and Honduras to challenge Australia’s plain pack laws in World Trade Organization. SMH 20/7/12 Australia’s Big Two tobacco companies, Philip Morris and BAT, earlier admitted funding legal costs of two countries, Ukraine and Honduras, threatening WTO challenge. Financial Times 29/4/12
Powerful tobacco allies fund world campaign to block plain packs
July 2012: Powerful US corporate alliance with links to tobacco, climate denial and the Tea Party is funding global campaign to derail plan packs. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) targets UK’s plain packs consultation, open until August. Guardian UK 15/7/12
Metal jacket move to cover plain packs
May 2012: Tobacco companies are warned against distributing metal covers to hide plain packs and health warnings. One brand distributes tins as shown here (spool down to Packwatch Jan 2012) - Health Minister Tanya Plibersek warns these won’t comply with the new laws from Dec 1. The Minister has also announced tough new penalties for tobacco smuggling. Melbourne Age 31/5/12

Tobacco giant in sneaky ad for cut-price cigs

May 2012: BATA releases new cut-price brand of cigarettes, selling for just $11.50 for pack of 25. Thinly-disguised ad uses exaggerated claims of illicit trade as excuse; also tries to undermine plain packs and tobacco tax increases. BATA release 17/5/12 (not online) and Telegraph/news.com 17/5/12 including BATA and AMA comment The Tele was sucked in: Crikey comment 17/5/12

Tobacco industry beats illicit trade drum again
May 2012: In run-up to plain pack laws coming into force, Deloitte report commissioned by BAT, Philip Morris and Imperial claims counterfeit/contraband tobacco, fuelled by pack reform, has tripled in a year, costing a billion in lost tax – claims not backed by independent evidence. Telegraph, Sydney 3/5/12 Deloitte report May 2012 and for the real story: Quit Victoria critique April 2012 study shows packaging, branded or plain, has no impact on consumers’ intention to buy counterfeit tobacco products. Abstract

Complaints to WTO after Philip Morris advised to encourage them
April 2012: Honduras and Ukraine complain to World Trade Organization, claiming (along with Ukraine – see below) that Australia’s plain pack laws violate global intellectual property rules.Bloomberg news 4/4/12Bloomberg/SMH 15/3/12 Tobacco industry suspected of funding this challenge and later admits to this. SMH 27/3/12

Tobacco companies deny health evidence in plain packs case
March 2012: Australia’s tobacco giants “denied the content” of “barrow loads” of health evidence on tobacco harm in lead-up to plain packs challenge in High Court. Presenting documents, they claimed health evidence was in dispute or was irrelevant to their constitutional case. SMH 13/3/12

How packaging “helps” consumers – brought to you by Philip Morris
March 2012: London Economics consultancy publishes report “The role of packaging imagery on consumer preferences for experience goods: A consumer behavioural experiment” – funded by Philip Morris. Suggests that “packaging imagery is a source of information that helps consumers differentiate between alternative product characteristics”. PR-USA.net report 11/3/12 and full report

Plain packs “indiscriminate, frivolous, illiberal” says tobacco-funded think tank
February 2012: Shrill libertarian UK pro-smoker Christopher Snowdon publishes clichéd, error-ridden commentary “Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation” for tobacco industry-funded Adam Smith Institute. Snowdon commentary 21/2/12

Philip Morris International joins in High Court litigation
December 2011: Philip Morris International Inc. joins its Hong Kong subsidiary in suing Australian Government over plain packaging. PMI takes action in the High Court, along with BAT, Imperial and Japan Tobacco. Philip Morris Asia Ltd also launched an arbitration case in November 2011 under Australia’s bilateral investment treaty with Hong Kong. Law360 20/12/11 Philip Morris release 20/12/11JTI joins High Court action: PRNewswire 14/12/11 Imperial High Court action: MSNBC report 5/12/11

BAT files High Court challenge
December 2011: British American Tobacco as expected lodges High Court suit against the Australian Government, claiming the Plain Packs legislation “unconstitutional” in “acquiring” the company’s trademarks “without just compensation”. BATA release 1/12/12

Philip Morris Asia sues
November 2011: After Parliament passes the Plain Packs bills, Philip Morris takes legal action as threatened, claiming the laws infringe its rights under an Australia-Hong Kong trade agreement. Philip Morris Asia files lawsuit: PM Asia release 21/11/11 and Tobacco.org news 21/11/11 Philip Morris suit is “frivolous treaty shopping” – earlier comment by ANU legal experts in Canberra Times, 28/6/11 And see this challenge assessed as a “dead parrot” by trademark expert Professor Mark Davison. Conversation 20/1/12

Retailer group predicts chaos and devastation
November 2011: National Independent Retailers’ Assoc claims plain packs laws will “create chaos” and that only 8 weeks between ban on manufacturing and 1/12/12 final ban on stocking “could be devastating to small independent retailers”. NIRA release 17/11/11 (not online)

US business friends of Big Tobacco lobby Australian PM
November 2011: Tobacco-allied US groups including US Chamber of Commerce, after passage ofplain pack bills, reiterate “deep concerns” that “draconian assault” will “violate” Australia’s trade obligations and the world trading system, “without advancing public-health objectives.” They report “Some of us were able to relay these concerns directly to the Prime Minister in [an APEC-related]meeting in Hawaii.” 7 US business groups’ release 13/11/11 at asianet

Retailer front claims small business let down by parties
November 2011: Tobacco industry-funded Alliance of Australian Retailers says Senate passage of plain packs bills shows ALP and Coalition have “failed to stand up for small business”; claims the laws will “make it harder for small retailers… to quickly identify cigarette packs and to serve our customers quickly.” AAR release 10/11/11 (not online)

Rollie packs sent to Senators
November 2011: Imperial Tobacco sends packs of roll-your-own products to senators to “demonstrate packaging difficulties” in plain packs bills. Packs are “absolutely not a gift”, company insists. Sydney Morning Herald 9/11/11 “Tobacco pack for senators” (not online)

Revised timetable still not good enough, says Imperial
November 2011: The five-month delay in the Plain Packs timetable announced by Health Minister Roxon is still not good enough for Imperial Tobacco – it claims to need 11-17 months from when the legislation is finalised to comply.ACAPMA news 2/11/11

More “vexatious” FOI requests from tobacco industry
October 2011: The tobacco industry continues to swamp the Department of Health with Freedom Of Information applications – 35 are current. The department seeks advice on how to deal with what it calls the “vexatious” requests. Canberra Times 19/10/11

BAT still “needs more time”
October 2011: After the legislation is delayed in the Senate, BAT Australia argues the delay makes it “impossible for the industry to comply” with the legislation’s timetable and that there would be “no legal tobacco on the shelves” after the then-proposed July deadline. BAT release 14/10/11

Philip Morris warns of “longer queues”
October 2011: A Philip Morris Ltd website warns plain packs will cause “greater confusion” and “longer queues” in orchestrated campaign to target individual MPs in the leadup to Senate voting on the legislation. “I deserve to be heard”But Curtin University study finds identifying and serving plain cigarette packs no slower and in fact slightly faster than former packaging. Full study

BATA exploits refugee doubt to question plain pack legality
September 2011: BAT Australia places full-page ads in major newspapers exploiting legal controversy over refugee policy to cast doubt on legality of plain tobacco packaging bills. Ads ask “Is the government’s legal advice on shaky ground?” BATA ad in Sydney Telegraph 7/9/11, p. 22 Tobacco case “largely vexatious”: legal expert ANU release 14/9/11

BATA challenges bills in High Court
September 2011: British American Tobacco Australia applies for special leave to appeal in the High Court to gain access to Australian government legal advice on the plain packaging bills. BATA threatens to mount a High Court challenge to the bills if passed by the Senate. BATA release 5/9/11

Tobacco loses bid to dig out government’s privileged legal advice
September 2011: BATA, Philip Morris fail in bids to get access to government legal advice on plain packs, ruled legally privileged by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Federal Court. Tobacco legal actions “huff and puff”: Minister Roxon release 14/9/11Philip Morris lost its action in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal – it ruled the advice legally privileged with no overriding public interest in revealing it. Canberra Times 20/8/11and AAT decision 15/8/11 in Philip Morris Ltd v Prime Minister [2011] AATA 556 on FOI application by PML June 2010 for access to documents held by the Prime Minister’s office. Philip Morris did not appeal. BATA was joined as a party to PMI’s appeal to the AAT; but Full Federal Court appeal was lodged by BATA alone, seeking access to 1995 legal advice held by the Dept of Health – Bloomberg news 3/8/11 … this appeal was also lost – Federal Court decision published 23/8/11. BAT “disappointed”, may appeal to High Court – Melbourne Age 23/8/11
Democracy Institute: Plain packaging is “silly” (but tobacco-paid junkets are not)
August 2011: Transatlantic think tank Democracy Institute opposes plain packs in submission to House of Reps inquiry and in Australian/NZ media. DI has history of links with tobacco industry, which funds some of its publications and travel. Industry tries to persuade NZ not to follow Australia into plain packs. Dominion Post NZ, 17/8/11- see at bottom, author’s trip to NZ funded by Philip Morris

Indonesia, Mexico complain plain packaging will “hurt trade”

August 2011: Indonesia, Mexico make submissions to the Australian parliamentary inquiry claiming mandatory plain tobacco packaging “unnecessarily restrictive” “barrier” to their tobacco trade. Melbourne Herald Sun 16/8/11 and inquiry submissions – Indonesia no. 56, Mexico no. 58

BAT bull, bullying, bluff and bafflement in plain pack hearing

August 2011: British American Tobacco Australia chief David Crow tells parliamentary hearing the timetable for plain packs “impossible”, will cause shortages, feed black markets. Health leaders say the industry “bluffing”, had years of warning. Melbourne Age, 5/8/11 Also addressing House of Reps review committee: National Preventative Health Agency, Dept of Health, major health groups – outline world evidence, warn tobacco industry claims untrustworthy. Inquiry site including transcripts
Claims in the Crow testimony include:
– “No evidence” for effectiveness. But see the evidence

– “Lack of engagement, consultation and transparency”. But BAT had several meetings with government departments, and contributed to the open public consultation

– “All consumer advertising is gone; it is banned.” Oh yes? see pack advertising and other tobacco promotion including to retailers; and promotion in movies and use of internet including YouTube
– BAT needs more time: “12 and 12″ (12 months to change, 12 more to clear old stock). These times differ from BAT written submission and within the verbal presentation. And the change was announced in April 2010!
- “By the end of this year, in very close to all of Australia, the product will be behind steel doors.” No mention of steel doors as requirement in any Australian law.
– Four different estimates in Crow testimony of illicit tobacco as proportion of total Australian tobacco trade: “15.6%”, “16%”, “one in five and a half” [18.1%] and “one in five” [20%]. Difference between 15.6% and 20% would be over 100m sticks. Even 15.6% fanciful – real figure less than 5%, says much larger and independent 2010 AIHW survey Tables 3.11 and 3.12, pp. 39-40
- Tobacco-funded Deloitte report on illicit trade “based on thousands of interviews”. Actually less than one thousand. Compare with over 26,000 surveyed by AIHW

– Illicit tobacco has additives that are “not smart to smoke and that we would never be allowed to use under Australian law”. Additives and contents of tobacco are not regulated under Australian law
- “… we are talking about a smoker who has chosen to smoke. They are 18 and over; they are an adult.” Wrong. Most smokers start well before 18. Average age of Australian smoking uptake around 16. A key aim of plain packaging is to deter youth uptake.

Tobacco industry and supporters line up in anti-plain packs submissions
August 2011: Publication of submissions to public consultation and parliamentary inquiry show a formidable lineup of tobacco companies, retailers and tobacco-allied entities opposing plain packs. The list includes Australia’s “Big 3″ tobacco giants (BAT, Philip Morris, Imperial), and also:

Brazil Intellectual Property Assc, AIPPI (world intellectual property body) Australia, Alliance of Australian Retailers, American Legislative Exchange Council, APCO service stations, Australasian Assc of Convenience Stores, Australasian Convenience & Petroleum Marketers Assc, Australian Newsagents’ Fed, Australian Retailers’ Assc, Business Civil Liberties, Cigarworld Australia, Cigar Retailers Assc, Convenience & Mixed Business Assc, CTC tobacconists, Democracy Institute, economiesuisse, Emergency Committee for American Trade, European Cigar Manufacturers’ Assc, Free Choice stores, Habanos SA Cuba, “I Oppose Plain Packaging” campaign (1,100 identical letters), Indonesian Government, Institute for Policy Innovation, Institute of Patent & Trademark Attorneys of Australia, International Assc for Protection of Intellectual Property, International Chamber of Commerce, International Trademark Assc, Japan Tobacco International, Master Grocers Australia-Liquor Retailers Australia, Mexican Government, National Assc of Manufacturers, National Assc of Retailer Grocers Australia, National Foreign Trade Council, Nicaraguan Government, Pacific Cigar Co, Property Rights Alliance, Scandinavian Tobacco, Service Station Assc, Tobacco Station Group, Transatlantic Business Dialogue, US Council for International Business.

BAT pushes to see old government legal advice
August 2011: BAT urges Federal Court to order the Australian Government to release past legal advice leading to its decision in 1995 not to pursue plain packaging. Government argues the advice is privileged and confidential. Philip Morris also appealed FOI refusal. Bloomberg news 3/8/11

Big Tobacco misleads retailers; offers Fiji hols for pushing
July 2011: Some retailers concerned at misleading flyers distributed to them by Imperial Tobacco urging protest about plain packs to House of Reps inquiry. Meanwhile BAT Australia criticised by ASH for offering Fiji holidays to retailers pushing tobacco. Imperial flyers and Telegraph report 24/7/11

Nat MP says tobacco companies “coaching” spam calls to MPs

July 2011: WA Nationals MP Tony Crook says tobacco companies intentionally misleading people and “coaching” anonymous “spam” calls to MPs protesting the plain packs bills. Crook says his office has had regular calls from angry people raising same issues. ABC news report 11/7/11
Smiling smoothies behind BAT pack attack

July 2011: Details emerge about who ran the BAT campaign against plain packs: G2 ad agency set up by worldwide PR/marketing giant WPP. Read about the “smiling ad smoothie” who loves “vice clients” and finds pushing Big Tobacco’s line “satisfying”. The Australian 18/7/11

Retailer front group claims “no real evidence”
June 2011: Tobacco-funded Alliance of Australian Retailers claims in its submission to the government consultation there’s “no real evidence” for plain packaging effectiveness. AAR submission So presumably none of this two decades of evidenceis “real”

Philip Morris’ flashy card trick

Philip Morris pack inserts (from April 2011) – carrying
the company’s authorisation and pointing smokers
to their website (below)
The cards, complaining about retail display bans and plain packaging, were slipped into some PM brands
and handed around in pubs/clubs.

Philip Morris plain packaging website (launched April 2011) shows they see it as a major threat; wrongly assert “no evidence for it”, “won’t work”, will boost illicit trade and violate trademark rights.Legal argument rubbished by trademark expert in Melbourne Age 4/5/10 and detailed demolition

… but “smokers’ rights” don’t include being told the truth or helped to quit
Secret tobacco documents show decades of health interference. Australian references among over 60,000 formerly secret industry docs show them aggressively blocking health reforms that would have aided quitting; and hiding research on how their product wrecks babies’ DNA.