Despite no evidence to support it, government planning on plain packaging

There is zero evidence of the effectiveness of plain packaging, indeed in Australia which introduced plain packaging for tobacco consumption went up.

That doesn’t seem to be stopping idiot National ministers from rolling ahead with plain packaging.

The Government is to press ahead with plain-packaging for tobacco – with more detail on how such a regime might work to be revealed tomorrow.

Prime Minister John Key this afternoon said the Maori Party-devised plain-packaging regime had not been signed off by Cabinet, but the advice he was receiving was that “we should be able to proceed with that, without the legal risks that had slowed us up”.

“I’m not sure how far away it is, but it’s getting much closer and we are keen to progress it.”

New Zealand had been keeping an eye on the outcome of legal challenges against Australia’s plain-packaging, one from tobacco firm Philip Morris and another from tobacco-producing countries via the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will attend a smokefree event in Wellington tomorrow.

The Herald understands he will unveil detail on draft regulations for a future plain-packaging regime, such as what cigarette packages would look like.

Australia won the case against Philip Morris in December.

Australia did not win the case against Philip Morris in December. It was an arcane decision in one jurisdiction, Hong Kong, as part of a single free trade agreement and had nothing whatsoever to do with the WTO challenge by Indonesia and other tobacco producing nations.

Philip Morris Asia Limited launched its challenge against the Australian government in 2011, seeking to rely on an argument that the ban on trademarks breached foreign investment provisions of Australia’s 1993 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with Hong Kong.

But the arbitral tribunal has declined jurisdiction to hear the case, the company said in a statement issued on Friday.

Australia didn’t win the case at all, there was no jurisdiction so the case was never heard.

This policy is just the Maori party flea wagging the National party dog’s tail. With tax increases on tobacco products but not on booze, which arguably causes far more harm, and now plain packaing the government is looking increasingly like a nanny state.

The real problem now will be the calls for plain packaging in many other products, because where tobacco goes so do everything else. We are already seeing calls for taxes on Sugar, we will now see calls for plain packing on other “harmful” products and the justification will be the same as for taxes…it works for tobacco…so why not.

Only a foolish government lets the slippery slope enter public policy.


– NZ Herald, The Guardian


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  • jcpry

    I look at it this way. If plain packing a) costs us – the tax payer nothing and b) stops another bunch of people either taking up the filthy habit or stops another bunch from continuing then we should go for it.
    The only thing we have to lose is the considerable funding the tobacco industry contributes to the health sector.

    • Andinz

      Without data I have no more than a guess .. that the money the health sector gets from tobacco tax does not go near enough to pay for attempts to prolong smokers lives, provide palliative care for smoke-damaged people, and fund anti-smoking campaigns.

      • Tobacco taxes more than pay for the health care costs. It literally is user pays. Plus they die earlier, never get the pension and pay, voluntarily massive taxes over and above everyone else.

        • Andinz

          Thanks for the info. WOM is great place is to get information.
          More speculation – that tobacco (with nicotine patches) is moving into the same area as hemp (with cannabinol, no patches).
          Why do people smoke tobacco to get the nicotine which is available as patches in supermarkets (more cheaply I think – again no data)?

    • Then they will do it to your booze, your packets of crisps, and anything with sugar…and anything else they decide is “bad”.

    • Keyser Soze

      I wouldn’t worry too much about lost funds to the health sector. I bet the net costs for health is well and truely in the red for associated smoking illness.

  • Aucky

    I have made my dough out of being a good marketer and everything I stand for screams out against this move by the Government but something has got to be done to further reduce smoking. There is no single silver bullet that will achieve that goal but if this initiative only reduces smokers by 5% then it’s worthwhile. The fact that it hasn’t worked in Australia is irrelevant. The fact that we allow foreign multinationals to market a product that kills 4000 Kiwis a year is very relevant. Bloody hell, some WOBH commenters are hellbent on banning foreign rental vehicle drivers who kill (tragically) half a dozen Kiwis a year yet stick up for the perceived legal rights of companies that knock off thousands of us annually and generally after a protracted and painful illness.

    Good on Turiana for starting this scrap and I hope to see it come to its full fruition.

    • spanishbride

      I believe the answer is vaping. Make it financially attractive for the tobacco companies to move out of cigarettes and loose tobacco and into nicotine vapes that contain none of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes. This removes the harmful smoke that affects those around the smokers as well.
      Also if you want to kick the habit you can control the level of nicotine inside a vape cigarette so you can gradually reduce it.

    • SFB

      As you say Aucky, there is no silver bullet. A little research shows there are many measures in place for those who choose to take them up.

    • Keyser Soze

      Agreed. As much as I hate the ban hammer, I just don’t see any down side to this. A big fat duddums to a morally bankrupt industry no one has any sympathy for – irrespective that it’s legal.

      • Aucky

        The writing has been on the wall for the tobacco industry for decades which they have countered by spreading their insidious product into third world markets and diversifying their business interests to non-tobacco related products. The NZ market is of little consequence to them financially and they won’t proceed with legal action unless they win their case against the Aussies. If they do proceed they will be totally screwed in the court of public opinion because they will effectively be sueing the NZ taxpayer including their own customer base.

  • edenman

    my question is — if they introduce plain packaging and are increasing tobacco tax substantially at the same time how are they going to measure the effectiveness of each measure?

    • SFB

      Census has a smoking question from memory.

      • edenman

        the census would not distinguish whether any reduction in use was caused by raising the tax or the result of plain packaging.

  • JustanObserver

    If something legal is so bad, and it only affects 8.5% of the population, then why not just ban it?
    Or is that racist?

  • Pampered Menial

    Smokers now provide more to the state in tax revenue than they take in health services. A significant reduction in smokers will mean those who remain become a burden to the taxpayer. Leave things as they are. Let those that want to continue to do so as long as they are prepared to pay $30+/pack. I

  • Kerry

    John Key is somewhat like Obama in that he has no lines in the sand so to speak. He will do anything that appeases his critics for the sake of votes. This is something that has always annoyed me and why I hope Act become strong again as I don’t vote for lefties.

  • cod

    This is not about smokers, it is about crushing big tobacco. Social justice warriors have been using the smoking debate to push an anti corporate message for years. E cigarettes are not legal because the nicotine fluid is produced by Philip Morris, BAT et al. I note with some interest that the decline in smoking rates is directly mirrored by the increase in prescriptions for anti depressant and anti psychotic drugs. Most smoking harm studies are paid for by….. yes you guessed it, pharmaceutical companies. Follow the money to find the truth.

    • Brian Dingwall

      Good question; if we assume, as has been oft stated, that smoking has soothing and appetite suppressant effects, then it is fair to ask whether the impacts on mental health (of smokers and indiectly their kids) and obesity have been adequately estimated and compensated for as the incidence of smoking has reduced.