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NAQC Newsroom: Tobacco Control

Australia to have world's largest package health warnings

Monday, April 11, 2011  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
As part of the Thrusday April 7 release of a draft plain packaging bill, the Australian government also announced that it would be increasing the size of picture warnings to 75% of the front and 90% of the back of cigarette packages, and a comparable size for other tobacco products.

 
This will result in Australia having the largest cigarette package health warnings in the world, with an average of 82.5% of the front and back.  Taking into account the proposed measures for consultation in Australia and Canada, the new world rankings for size would be as follows (ranked as an average of the package front and back):
 
 
82.5%   Australia (75% front, 90% back) (proposal in consultation period)
80%      Uruguay (80% front, 80% back)
75%      Canada (75% front, 75% back) (proposal in consultation period)
65%      Mauritius (60% front, 70% back)
65%      Mexico (30% front, 100% back)
 

 
Australia has not yet announced the content of its new picture warnings.  The new size requirements are not contained in bill released on April 7.  The new size and content will be implemented through a separate regulatory mechanism.
 
Extracts from the consultation document are below.
 
A hearty congratulations to Australia for its extremely important and historic announcement on April 7 releasing draft legislation on plain packaging, and also for the announcement re the world's largest package health warnings.
 
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Excerpt from Australian Government Consultation document
 
http://yourhealth.gov.au/internet/yourhealth/publishing.nsf/...
 
Graphic Health Warnings
Alongside the plain packaging measure, the Government announced that it would be moving to update and expand the graphic health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products.

Graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging are currently mandated through the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Tobacco) Regulations 200417 under the Australian Consumer Law in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 201018 (formerly the Trade Practices Act 1974). Since 1 March 2006, there has been a requirement that most Australian-manufactured and imported tobacco product packaging must be printed with graphic health warnings.

[...]

In 2008, a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the graphic health warnings was undertaken19. The evaluation demonstrated that the graphic health warnings had achieved their intended purpose by increasing consumer knowledge of the health effects related to smoking, encouraging cessation of smoking and discouraging smoking uptake or relapse.

However, areas for improvement were identified. The image and text on the front of packs was described by some as ‘too small’. The importance of regularly updating and refreshing the health warnings to maintain effectiveness was also identified with some indications that their impact may have been beginning to wear out. The tobacco industry branding and use of colour was also thought to overpower the warning on the front of packs.

The Preventative Health Taskforce recommended that graphic health warnings be regularly updated and substantially expanded.

The Government is currently developing and testing new graphic health warnings for introduction at the same time as plain packaging. As part of this, the graphic health warnings will be expanded to cover 75 per cent of the front of cigarette packaging. Warnings covering 90 per cent of the back of cigarette packaging and the qualitative side message will remain. A comparable change will apply to other tobacco products.

This change will be implemented through the Australian Consumer Law in consultation with State and Territory governments.  

Source: Globalink posting from Rob Cunningham, Canada. 

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