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Government urged to bring plain packs to a vote

Plain-pack supporters including the Maori Party urged the government to rethink its go-slow approach to standardising packaging for tobacco products and send legislation back to Parliament, the New Zealand Herald reported.

A survey in Australia showing a decline in the smoking rate to 12.8 per cent in 2013, the first year of plain packaging, from 15.1 per cent in 2010 was cited as grounds for quick action to protect public health, the newspaper said on its website. The New Zealand measure was put on hold after the government said it would await the outcome of complaints against the Australian law filed with the World Trade Organisation and Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga was cited in the article saying the government continues to support plain packaging, but has not changed its position on awaiting the outcome of legal challenges.

Australia remains the only country with a plain-pack law. The Irish parliament this week approved a plain packaging bill and the UK government has promised a parliamentary vote on its proposal in March.

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