Individual cigarettes to contain warnings under new law

7 December 2023

By Andrew Brown, Yahoo News

Individual warnings will soon be printed on cigarettes in a bid to get more smokers to kick the habit.

Laws cracking down on smoking passed federal parliament on Thursday, which will also see new graphic health warnings placed on cigarette and vape packages.

Under the laws, individual cigarettes will contain messages such as “toxic addiction” or “poisons in every puff”, but the final wording has yet to be approved.

The laws come into effect from April 1 next year, with tobacco companies given a year to comply with the new measures.

Tobacco companies will also be banned from using appealing names for products, while features making tobacco more palatable will be outlawed.

Packet sizes for cigarettes and vapes will also be standardised, with the packages containing inserts with information on how smokers can quite.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the laws were needed to ensure a generation of new smokers did not start.

He said previous anti-smoking measures needed to be modernised.

“Australia has gone from being a global leader in tobacco control to being a laggard – we’re now behind the play in the global fight against tobacco,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“Big tobacco in that time has adapted, they have developed a range of cunning, effective marketing strategies, particularly targeting younger Australians.”

About 20 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds vape, while about one in seven 14 to 17-year-olds use the product.

Mr Butler said the smoking laws would not be “set and forget”, indicating they were a starting point for further change.

“We need to update some of the measures in place under the … laws from a decade ago, particularly the graphic health warnings,” he said.

“Research told us (the warnings) had lost their impact, had lost their punch because people have become so familiar to images that were so shocking and repulsive 10 years ago.”

The laws come as the government will ban the importation of single-use vapes from the start of next year.

Doctors and nurses would still be able to prescribe therapeutic vapes as a tool to help smokers quit.

It will also be illegal from March to import or supply vapes that do not comply with standards from the medical regulator.

Mr Butler said while the government was still looking to reduce the national smoking rate below 10 per cent by 2025, smoking rates were rising among younger cohorts due to vapes.

“Australia now has legislation in place to underpin our renewed fight against tobacco and to protect the next generation from the devastating impacts of smoking,” he said.

Public Health Association of Australia chief executive Terry Slevin said the new laws were a welcome step.

“This new legislation, coupled with vaping regulations which take effect from January 1, will save tens of thousands of lives and reassert the country as a world leader in tobacco control,” he said.

“It is excellent news for children in Australia and future generations, who will be better protected against the influence of the tobacco industry.”

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