Australian experiment in plain packaging of tobacco has been a disaster: Countries must avoid its path
On December 1, 2012, Australia implemented the first branding ban on tobacco products in the world, stripping packages of discernible brands while mandating shocking and graphic images of tobacco users.
Though the program was well-intended, it has failed to produce effective outcomes. It serves as a warning to other countries looking to adopt similar measures. David Clement, North American Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said the anniversary of Australia’s law should give lawmakers in other countries pause before they adopt similar programs, including Canada, Ireland, and Norway.
“Reducing the use of tobacco, especially for young people, is indeed a noble goal. But after five years of Australia’s branding ban, it can only be classified as a failure. Since 2012, the daily smoker rate has remained steady at 12 percent. This is despite the reported $12.69 million (AUD) the government will spend on enforcing this law over the next decade, according to their Department of Health.
“Added to that, the market share of illegal tobacco in Australia has risen 30 percent since 2012, as contraband tobacco has become a lucrative avenue for would-be smugglers. This has resulted in over $1.6 billion (AUD) in lost tax revenue, according to the Sydney Morning Herald..
“A precedent which allows governments to ban certain branding is indeed worrying, and may soon affect other industries and businesses who sell products over services in the crosshairs of regulators. What Australia has taught us is that the plain packaging of tobacco products does not reduce smoking, discourages alternatives, and creates a robust illegal trade in black market cigarettes,” said Clement.
***CCC North American Affairs Manager David Clement is available to speak with accredited media on plain packaging, harm reduction, and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.***
The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.