The New Zealand government has decided it will bring in legislation to put tobacco products
into plain packaging
Media release from associate minister of health, Tariana
The Government has decided it will bring in legislation to put
tobacco products into plain packaging.
In April last year the Government had agreed 'in principle' to
introduce a plain packaging regime in alignment with Australia
pending the outcome of a public consultation process. The public
consultation closed on 5 October 2012 and Cabinet considered a
report on the consultation outcomes on Monday.
Plain packaging for tobacco will mean cigarette packs and tobacco
pouches will have much larger pictorial health warnings and be
stripped of the marketing imagery tobacco companies use to promote
their products. The colours and design of the packs will be
standardised in regulations designed to maximise the impact of the
health warnings. Tobacco brand names will have to be printed in
standard type fonts and sizes.
In announcing the decision to legislate for plain packaging,
Associate Minister of Health Hon Tariana Turia said the
consultation process generated a lot of interest and the written
submissions provided useful information to inform Cabinet's
decision-making. Ultimately, Cabinet is satisfied that plain
packaging is an important tool to improve the health of New
Around 300 substantive written submissions were received, as well
as a further 20,000 plus postcards, form letters and signatures on
petitions either in support or opposing plain packaging.
"I'd like to thank everyone who submitted on this important issue,"
said Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia.
"While opinions were divided, with many smokers and tobacco
retailers expressing opposition, overall the consultation process
confirmed that plain packaging will be an effective means of
reducing the appeal of smoking and removing the impression that
tobacco may be less harmful than it is.
"The evidence from experimental studies, marketing experts and the
tobacco industry's own documents is overwhelming. We cannot
continue to allow tobacco companies to use sophisticated packaging
designs to promote their products as if they were ordinary everyday
"Currently the packaging does everything it can to attract
consumers, and increase the perceived appeal and acceptability of
smoking. The bright colours and other design elements divert
people's attention away from the health warnings which tell the
truth about just how deathly dangerous smoking is."
Mrs Turia said the move to plain packaging would make more explicit
what tobacco is - a product that kills 5,000 New Zealanders each
"Current tobacco packaging not only helps promote smoking to young
and vulnerable people, it also helps keep smokers smoking. This
move to plain packaging will remove the last remaining vestige of
glamour from these deadly products.
"I am delighted that New Zealand is on track to be the second
country in the world to legislate for plain packaging. This is
another major step on the pathway to becoming a Smoke-free nation
"There is a risk that tobacco companies will try and mount legal
challenges against any legislation, as we have seen in
"In making this decision, the Government acknowledges that it will
need to manage some legal risks. As we have seen in Australia,
there is a possibility of legal proceedings.
"To manage this, Cabinet has decided that the Government will wait
and see what happens with Australia's legal cases, making it a
possibility that if necessary, enactment of New Zealand legislation
and/or regulations could be delayed pending those outcomes.
"The Ministry of Health will now begin developing the detailed
policy which will include the size and content of health warnings.
I intend to introduce the legislation to Parliament before the end
of this year.
"Once again, I would like to acknowledge the community health
workers, the NGO's, medical practitioners and government agencies
for their work on reducing the extreme harm caused by tobacco
consumption and in achieving our long term goal of a Smoke-Free
Aotearoa. I know that when we look back in 20 years this decision
will be the right one."
* 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.