Australians Face Gangrene Photos as Tobacco Brands Vanish

Plain Package

Australians purchasing smokes are now assured to deal with warnings that consist of pictures of a gangrenous limb and a cancer victim as the world’s first law demanding tobacco sales in standard packages comes into effect.

Starting with December 1, all cigarettes in Australia have to be sold in the standard drab brown packs, with the brand name placed at the bottom of the package. The change from branded cigarette packages to standard packaging started in October.

“Plain packs are so horrifingly unpleasant that they are remarkable,” Fiona Sharkie, executive director of anti-smoking campaigner Quit Victoria, stated. Some people said that the packaging was the “final factor” they needed to quit smoking, she said.

The Australian government deals with A$31.5 billion ($33 billion) in yearly health costs from smoking. It fended off a challenge from cigarette makers, which lost a bid to prevent the plain packaging rules on August 15 when the High Court of Australia declined a claim that ban of the display of logos resulted in an illegal seizure of their property.

The volume of the illegal tobacco market in Australia is the same as 13.4% of the legal industry, Deloitte LLP explained.

“This year’s Deloitte report into illicit tobacco identified that almost $1 billion in tobacco excise income was lost to organized crime gangs,” Scott McIntyre, a spokesman for British American Tobacco Plc (BATS) in Australia. “The tobacco companies expect that the black market will grow because all packs will be easier to duplicate because of plain packaging.”

Australian Customs and Border Protection arrested a shipment of more than 10 million illicit branded-package cigarettes on November 28 as the new rule came into effect.

Customs officials identified the contraband while reviewing a sea cargo container destined for Sydney, which was stated to have ceramic tiles. The shipment represented almost A$4 million in unpaid taxes, the agency said.

Customs and Border spokesman Campbell Massie rejected to say which cigarette brand was seized.

The Australian government has also improved punishments for smuggling cigarettes, raising the highest charge to 10 years in jail or a fine similar to five times the duty evaded, or both.

British American Tobacco is the maker of Dunhill, Pall Mall and Australia’s best-selling cigarette brand, Winfield.

Philip Morris International is also sticking with the case in international arbitration. The Australian proposal violates a treaty with Hong Kong and may cause billions of dollars in damages, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes said.


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