Tobacco companies are now banned from advertising their brand on cigarette packets.
The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Standardised Packaging) Amendment Bill passed its third and final reading in Parliament on Thursday evening, by 108 to 13. The law would make it illegal for tobacco companies to print any branding on cigarette boxes, only allowing the name in small plain type with graphic warnings about the risks of smoking.
Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-liga said he hoped to see the new packs in stores late next year. "It's just another measure to attack the premature deaths around tobacco...that's a huge human cost for New Zealanders," Lotu-liga said. Up to 5000 people die prematurely each year due to smoking in New Zealand, he said.
The minister said he was confident the Government was on firm ground to win any legal battles brought by tobacco companies, with more countries taking similar steps towards plain or standardised packaging. The graphic warnings would take up 75 per cent of the packaging, with the text and colour on the rest of the pack similar to what is used in Australia.
"Standardised packaging will make a measureable difference to smoking rates in New Zealand, just as it has done in Australia. It will make a difference to families and communities who see every day the harm smoking causes," Lotu-liga said. "The bland packs will maximise the impact of health warnings and cut out any false impression that smoking is cool or glamorous." Lotu-liga said the exact design would be finalised through a review process.
The bill had overwhelming support, with just NZ First and ACT opposed. MPs across different political parties showed their support for the bill by holding up oversized cigarette boxes with the proposed packaging design. However, NZ First MP Barbara Stewart said her party was unconvinced standardised packaging would reduce New Zealand's smoking rate. Stewart said the Government had an "ulterior motive and it's not public health", referring to the billions brought in through cigarette taxes.
The bill was first introduced in 2013 and supports the Government's aspirational goal of making New Zealand smokefree by 2025.
8 September 2016
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