NZ plain packaging sparks anger from Big Tobacco
THE New Zealand government’s plan to follow Australia’s lead on plain packaging of tobacco products has sparked anger from British American Tobacco New Zealand and Phillip Morris who say they will fight the move in court.
The New Zealand cabinet has agreed in principle to introduce plain packaging as part of the goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, according to Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia.
But British American Tobacco New Zealand's Susan Jones said the company would "take every action necessary to protect its intellectual property rights as would any other business faced with the removal of their brands".
Ms Jones said plainer packets would be easier to counterfeit and “smoking rates will increase as many more young people take it up after gaining greater access to cheap illegal cigarettes".
Fellow tobacco company Philip Morris also said it would argue against plain packaging, saying it would not reduce smoking rates and would "trigger a variety of adverse consequences and violates numerous international laws and trade treaties".
Meanwhile, an eight-year-old Indonesian boy who smoked more than a pack a day from age four has kicked the habit according to Child Protection Commission chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait.
"He has quit smoking, but there is a risk he may restart if the (home) environment is not supportive," Mr Sirait said.
The boy was placed in treatment in mid-March after his parents complained he would throw violent tantrums, hitting them and smashing windows and objects when denied cigarettes.
Mr Sirait said the commission had recorded 20 cases of child smokers in Indonesia, were more than 37% of high school and university students smoke according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report from 2006.
Indonesia has the world's highest percentage of young smokers, according to the WHO report, which found more than 37% of high school and university students smoked.
Smoking rates have risen six-fold in Indonesia over the past 40 years, with 89 million Indonesians in a population of 240 million smoking today, the WHO data showed, but the government has recently announced plans for graphic warning labels on cigarettes.
Prices remain extremely low by international standards, with a pack of 20 costing little more than a dollar.