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Cigarette cover-up under investigation

Thursday, 3 January 2013  at 11:44

Australia's largest tobacco franchise could be in breach of state tobacco laws

Rachel Wells of The Sydney Morning Herald wrote today:

Australia's largest tobacco franchise could be in breach of state tobacco laws by giving away free cardboard covers designed to cover the graphic imagery on plain cigarette packs.

The Tobacco Station Group, with more than 300 stores nationally, is offering covers which feature the company's logo and website address free of charge to customers who purchase tobacco products in their outlets.

The federal Department of Health and Ageing is launching an investigation to see if the products breach federal tobacco laws and has advised its state and territory counterparts to do the same.

Under NSW's Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008, tobacco retailers are not permitted to provide gifts or other benefits to people who buy tobacco or non-tobacco smoking products.

"State and territories have enacted legislation prohibiting promotional schemes for tobacco products, that is, offering gifts, prizes . . . in association with the sale of tobacco products. It is therefore a matter for consideration by states and territories," a spokeswoman for the federal department said.

The Tobacco Station Group has confirmed the covers are available at all TSG outlets and were designed to "enable customers to express their identity with their cigarette packs".

"TSG are of the opinion that the cases comply with the new Australian plain packaging legislation," a spokeswoman said.

It is not the first time the federal government has investigated a product designed to hide the shocking, graphic health warnings on plain packs, which are three times larger than the previous images.

In December, a Gold Coast sticker manufacturing company launched a range of custom stickers that wrap around cigarette packs. The Box Wrap stickers with the marketing slogan, "It's your box, it's your choice," feature a range of images including the Australian flag and scantily-clad men and women.

In this instance, the department found the company was not in breach of federal tobacco laws.
* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.
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