Parliament will begin its debate on plain packaging for
tobacco early next year, Associate Health Minister Tariana
Turia has confirmed.
Mrs Turia said this morning she expected the Smoke-Free
Environments (Tobacco Products and Packaging) Amendment Bill
to be introduced to the House in the New Year.
The hard-hitting law change would require cigarettes and
tobacco to be sold in standardised packets with large health
In a statement, the minister said removing tobacco company
colours, logos and other marketing designed to make tobacco
products glamorous was an important step in reducing the
uptake of smoking.
"Tobacco is a deadly product that kills 5000 New Zealanders
every year and is one of the leading causes of
life-threatening illnesses such as heart and lung disease and
"Plain packaging, together with bigger health warnings, will
send a clear message that tobacco causes serious illness and
New Zealand would be the second country in the world to
approve plain packets, after Australia. The United Kingdom
and Ireland were also considering a law change.
Australia was facing dual legal challenges from tobacco
companies and tobacco-producing countries after introducing
olive-green, standardised packs in December.
New Zealand was also likely to face legal challenges if it
followed Australia's lead, and officials have estimated the
cost of a legal dispute would be between $2 million and $6m,
not including compensation if a case was lost.
New Zealand was keeping a close eye on the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) challenges against Australia by
tobacco-producing countries Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican
Republic, Cuba and Indonesia, Mrs Turia said.
She was confident a plain packaging regime would be in line
with New Zealand's WTO obligations: "That is why we are
pushing forward to take the legislation through the
Parliamentary processes without delay."
There have been concerns expressed that New Zealand's
inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would give
companies a direct pathway to sue the government, but the
legislation was likely to be passed before the TPP was signed
- By Isaac Davison of the NZ Herald