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Tobacco plain packaging has been a remarkable success, and has already saved thousands of lives, according to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and other groups.

A report released today concludes that the effects of plain packaging are “underestimated” but these positive outcomes are expected to grow.

Plain packaging, which was a first for Australia, was introduced in December 2012 by the Gillard Government. Researchers now believe it has been essential in the decline of smoking rates.

PHAA Tobacco spokesperson Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian government’s expert committee says “it is great news for everyone except big tobacco”.

“We know that smoking in adults and children and cigarette sales are declining, but it is especially rewarding that this meticulous independent analysis attributes part of that decline to plain packaging alone, even within its first three years.”

He adds that the plain packaging legislation has resulted in a stunning outcome.

“Even leaving aside the rest of the decline, and impacts on children, plain packaging alone has been responsible for tens of thousands of adults quitting since its introduction in late 2012.”

PHAA chief executive Michael Moore claims that plain packaging is a proven success.

“It is saving lives even in the short term, and will save many more in the years to come. No wonder the tobacco industry opposed it so desperately. All their arguments have failed, and plain packaging has become one of Australia’s most successful exports.”

“We congratulate all major parties for their continuing support of tobacco control and plain packaging. This is a triumph for public health and for a bipartisan approach to our largest preventable cause of death and disease. There is still work to be done, and the tobacco companies and their allies will do everything they can to keep selling their lethal products. This early outcome shows that the legislation is working, and Australia is winning the war on tobacco.”

Also the National Heart Foundation welcomed the results of the report.

Adding further credence to the results, the report also concluded that “this effect is likely understated and is expected to grow over time,” it said in a media statement today, adding it was another win against so-called “big tobacco”.

The figures come from the Government’s Tobacco Plain Packaging – Post Implementation Review that confirms approximately one quarter of the total decline in smoking rates were attributable to plain packaging since the legislation was introduced in December 2012.

National Heart Foundation tobacco control spokesperson, and President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Maurice Swanson says this report sends a clear message that plain packaging on tobacco products works.

“The report undeniably shows that the legislation is working and has been the catalyst for tens of thousands of adults quitting and saved the lives of many thousands of Australians,” says Swanson

“The legislation was always designed for long-term impact and if these results are merely the start of the journey, a smoke-free Australia could one day be a reality.”

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