Plain package cigarettes now in full effect but critiqued for lack of industry targeting
Source: Hapai Te Hauora
From today, it is illegal for tobacco companies in New Zealand to sell cigarettes in branded packaging but the
implementation has had a mixed response. This is the final week of the 3 month ‘wash out’ period in cleansing the market
of existing stock and introducing plain packaging. These changes mean tobacco packets are now the same standard dark
brown/green colour as seen in Australia and the U.K. Graphic pictures and health warnings will be enlarged to cover at
least 75% of the front of tobacco packs, and all tobacco company marketing imagery are removed.
Last week, Hone Harawira came out in opposition to the legislation, arguing that it’s effectiveness is limited when it
targets smoker behaviour, not the tobacco industry. In an interview on The AM Show, he stated "Plain packaging has been
proven overseas to be a step in the right direction but again, it's not doing anything to target the tobacco industry,
and we should be going after them".
The significant pressure that store owners experience from their tobacco contracts has also come to light in other
recent news. Hāpai Te Hauora recently supported a group of young students in Kelston, Auckland, to influence their local
dairies to stop selling cigarettes on World Smoke Free Day.
Stop the Stock in Keli-Block campaign lead, Lineti Latu, stated that the substantial financial pressure dairy owners
face from tobacco companies influenced many to not participate in the campaign. Latu stated that "Most of the dairy
owners we worked with didn’t want to sell cigarettes but feel like their hands are tied because of the contractual and
financial pressure. The government need to be targeting the tobacco industry, not just those who smoke who are already
well aware of the risks".
Hāpai Te Hauora have in the past, voiced concerns about the limited effectiveness of plain packaging for Māori unless it
is implemented in tandem with other efforts. Mihi Blair, General Manager for the Tobacco Control Advocacy service at
Hāpai Te Hauora stated that now is the time for the government to step up and do more in targeting the tobacco industry:
"If the government is as committed as they say they are in achieving Smokefree 2025, their upcoming plan must include
how they intend to block industry efforts from over supplying to poorer communities".
Spokesperson for the Cancer Society of New Zealand National Office, Shayne Nahu, wants to see proactive leadership by
decision makers and states "Plain packaging is one measure among many that is needed to achieve Smokefree Aotearoa 2025.
We look forward to working alongside others and with the Government on developing a strong action plan to get us all