As the plain packaging regulation has finally gone into effect, retailers have until the 6th of June to get rid of any remaining stock of branded cigarette packs, after which only sales in plain packaging will be permitted. In neighboring Australia, cool cigarette logos have been replaced by plain packaging and graphic warning image, from as far back as 2012. It was the first country that adopted this strategy and prompted many to follow suit.

This regulation has been in the making since 2012

New Zealand first announced the plain packaging legislation in April of 2012, however it was only completed in September 2016, and finally came into effect in March this year. The study titled, Regulatory chills: tobacco industry legal threats and the politics of tobacco standardised packaging in New Zealand, sadly indicated that legal threats by tobacco companies were the first thing that came up when the government was explaining the delays.

NZ first announced the plain packaging legislation in April 2012, however it was completed in September 2016, and only came into effect in March 2018.
The research was led by Dr Eric Crosbie from the University of California, and Associate Professor George Thomson from the University of Otago, and it confirms what several NZ health experts have previously stated. In fact, only last month, ASH Program Manager, Boyd Broughton pointed out that the plain packs legislation was well overdue, “ASH first campaigned on plain packaging thirty years ago and it has been 55 years since cigarette advertising was banned, on TV and radio in New Zealand. It’s astonishing that over half a century later we are only just finishing the job.”

Tobacco companies have spent millions of dollars fighting this measure since the early nineties. They have spent large on TV campaigns, legal challenges and setting up fake retail associations to fight it. This has been a marathon battle against a global giant,” she added.

These delays may have cost thousands of lives

Hāpai Te Hauora CEO, Lance Norman, concurs ,”It is appalling that it has taken New Zealand 53 months to introduce plain packaging– especially when compared to our neighbors in Australia who did it in 18. While we’ve been calculating the financial risks of lawsuits we lost over 22, 000 members of our whanau”.

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