Plain packaging for tobacco hailed as a win for Australia

Morgan Liotta

29/06/2018 2:38:20 PM

The World Trade Organization announced that Australia has triumphed in global disputes over plain packaging for tobacco.

Plain packaging for tobacco products has proven to be effective in reducing smoking rates in Australia.
Plain packaging for tobacco products has proven to be effective in reducing smoking rates in Australia.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) today released a report about the dispute of Australia’s plain packaging laws, praising Australia for its plain packaging for tobacco laws and rejecting all claims from several other countries (including Indonesia, Cuba and Honduras) that Australia’s plain packaging laws go against its rules.
The WTO’s decision and subsequent report shines light on plain packaging for tobacco as a public health measure, with Australia leading the way. The Australian laws are also consistent with WTO international trade and investment rules.
‘It’s a huge win for public health,’ Public Health Association Australia Chief Executive Officer Terry Slevin said in a statement.
‘The tobacco industry had fought this reform at every possible corner, largely because they are concerned about the impact it will have on their capacity to recruit new users for their deadly products.’
Australia was the first country in the world to introduce legislation for mandatory plain packaging for tobacco in 2012 under the Gillard Labor Government, and various studies have since proved the effectiveness of these measures in significantly reducing smoking rates.
The landmark victory for Australia not only impacts the health of the nation – with smoking being the single greatest cause of preventable deaths in the world – but effectively gives a green light for other countries to roll out similar laws, according to Ms Kylie Lindorff, Manager of Tobacco Control Policy at Cancer Council Victoria. 
‘Plain packaging has already been adopted in six other countries, and is currently under consideration in at least 19 other jurisdictions,’ Ms Lindorff said.
‘Plain packaging is an important part of Australia’s long-standing and comprehensive approach to tobacco control.’  
GP resources

  • Supporting smoking cessation: A guide for health professionals – details the role of health professionals in smoking cessation, and includes background of the worldwide issue around smoking, pharmacotherapy options, behavioural support, and smoking cessation in high-prevalence and special needs populations. The current guidelines are under review for update.
  • Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice (Red Book) – in the ninth edition, recommendations for assessing smoking status, identifying risk and providing advice on quitting is included in a chapter dedicated to prevention of chronic disease.
  • Smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity (SNAP) – designed to assist GPs to work with patients to reduce key lifestyle risk factors. It includes clinical strategies, advice on assessing whether patients are ready to make lifestyle changes, and other useful tools and referral services.

plain packaging smoking cessation World Trade Organization

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