NZ to follow Australia on tobacco packaging rules

The Government is expected to reveal its decision on plain packaging laws for tobacco products any day now.

The Maori Party's proposal to force all tobacco products to be sold in plain, unbranded packets was discussed by cabinet yesterday.

Afterwards, Prime Minister John Key told media an announcement would be made on the potential policy in the next day or so.

However, TV3's Nightline last night reported a decision had been made to proceed with its plain packaging plans.

Consultation ended in October and more than 20,000 submissions were made to the Ministry of Health.

Enforced publication of the submissions on the MOH website helped fuel accusation that the consultation process had not been completely transparent.

Concerns centre on outsourcing of the submission-review process and the counting of duplicate submissions – many from parties that receive ministry funding to provide tobacco control.

Businesses have largely opposed the plain packaging proposal because of the impact on New Zealand’s trade relationships and intellectual property rights.

Australia adopted plain packaging rules for tobacco products on December 1. Cigarettes are now sold in plain, olive-coloured packets with the brand name in small text, next to graphic images of diseased body parts.

First reports from across the Tasman indicate that plain packaging has had no initial impact there.

gbond@nbr.co.nz

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