Big Tobacco accused of new smokescreen

Tobacco Cigarettes

Cigarette firms have been taken down once again over their absence of compliance with new plain packaging regulations just day before the law becomes operational.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek is requiring two industry giants – Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco – take away ringed watermarking from their cigarette paper that seem to make their appearance more stylish.

The new regulations demand plain paper.

And she has also told BAT not to place obvious travel destination sources in the batch coding on their cigarettes.

The coding on its cigarettes read LDN, NYC, AUS or OZ in a way the minister says was intended to make people who smoke think of the “glamour of travel”.

“There is a precise set of regulations about what is permitted and if we start permitting variations then the cigarette firms will push the boundaries,” she told.

Its just one of a series of strategies cigarette firms have been using to subvert the new regulations that from December 1st require all cigarettes be sold in olive packaging with graphic warning labels covering 75%  of the front of the pack.

Ms Plibersek attacked cigarette firms in September for perpetrating a “sick Joke” when they started providing new plain packs that stated “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

At the same time, Action on Smoking and Health says that cigarette maker Imperial Tobacco has been providing roll-your-own smokers with free tins placed with the old branded packaging name “Champion”.

And two weeks before plain packaging appeared, a new brand of cigarette has been released called “Ice” – the term of an illegal drug, as outlined by ASH chief executive Anne Jones.

Imperial Tobacco refused that JPS Ice was a drug reference. A spokesperson stated that it is a mint flavoured cigarette and the name `Ice’ is a typical descriptor used by the tobacco industry to differentiate equally flavoured cigarettes.”

The minister has as well charged Philip Morris of “deliberately trying to create chaos” around the launch of plain packaging by declining to change branded packs held by small businesses for plain packaged packs.

Domenico Greco from the Combined and Mixed Business Association said that the firm was not changing packs if small businesses bought fewer than 4000 cigarettes per week.

The company did not discuss the association’s accusation head-on, but spokeman Chris Argent said that Philip Morris has been cooperating with the federal government and retailers to guarantee an easy transition to plain packaging.

The minister said that her major goal is the cigarette firms and that small-business owners who break the new cigarette plain packaging regulations that come into effect from December 1 are more probably to be “educated” than fined up to $1 million for selling tobacco products with branding.

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