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Tobacco ‘trying to disrupt’ plain packs

Tobacco ‘trying to disrupt’ plain packs

  • From: AAP
  • November 29, 20123:53PM

FEDERAL Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says big tobacco is trying to disrupt plain packaging, which comes into force this weekend.

Under Labor’s world-first laws all cigarettes must be sold in drab olive-brown packs from Saturday.

Large graphic health warnings will dominate the packs and brand names will be written in a small, generic font.

But small retailers have complained that some manufacturers are refusing to swap left-over branded stock for plain packs.

“This is a deliberate tactic to disrupt plain packaging,” Ms Plibersek said in a statement on Thursday.

“We call on all manufacturers to work with small business and take back non-compliant stock.”

Ms Plibersek said big tobacco had been given a year to get ready for plain packaging and the government wouldn’t let them “cause chaos” at the last minute.

Any small retailers caught selling branded packs from Saturday wouldn’t face heavy fines straight away.

“In the first instance we will take an educative approach to help them comply with the new legislation,” the minister said.

The federal health department also has raised concerns about manufacturers putting travel destination codes such as AUS, LDN and NYC, as well as ringed watermarks, on cigarettes to make them look more sophisticated.

A spokesman for Ms Plibersek on Thursday said the companies had now “agreed to change the alphanumeric codes and remove the watermarking”.

The High Court backed the government’s plain-packaging legislation earlier this year saying it involved regulating, not acquiring, big tobacco’s brands and logos.

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