Former Australian Health Minister Shares Experiences on Plain Tobacco Packaging

Toronto, September 27, 2016 – Today Councillor Joe Mihevc hosted a media event with former Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon and other health partners on the importance of plain and standardized packaging of tobacco products.  The event provided an opportunity to learn from the Australian experience, the first country to adopt plain packaging for tobacco.  Similar approaches are now underway in Canada following the federal government’s announced intention to introduce plain and standardized tobacco packaging shortly.

 “Canadians should reject tobacco industry arguments that plain tobacco packaging will not work,” former Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon said at a Toronto City Hall news conference today.

Roxon noted the many benefits of the measure to Australian citizens. “Plain packaging has worked in Australia.  The age at which young people start smoking has gone up, there has been no increase in contraband, and there has been a bigger drop in smoking rates than was already underway,” she said.

The tobacco industry uses packaging as a key mechanism to market their products to new and current smokers. Evidence has shown that the branding strategies employed by the industry are particularly effective when marketing to women and youth.

 Several countries around the world have implemented plain packaging policies, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and France. Studies have shown that plain packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco products, increases the effectiveness of health warnings, and reduces the utility of packaging as a way to mislead consumers about the harms associated with smoking.  The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco supports the implementation of plain packaging policies as a means to retain the effectiveness of health warnings on packages.

Mihevc reiterated the Board of Health’s full support for plain packaging.  “As a public health agency, we have an extensive tobacco control plan but we need to continue to evolve it.  Thank you to Nicola Roxon for sharing her experience and best practices from Australia.  I’m encouraged to see other Canadian jurisdictions like Montreal pressing for this change, and I hope that Health Canada is taking notice.”

Media Contacts:

Councillor Mihevc – Skylar Maharaj, 416-392-0208s.maharaj@toronto.ca

Minister Roxon – Daniel Paquette, 416-413-7714dppr@rogers.com

 

Supplementary materials:

HL 13.8 – Plain and Standardized Packaging of Tobacco Products http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2016.HL13.8

Letter from Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe to Health Canada (attached)

City of Montreal Council decision CM16 0816 on plain and standardized packaging (attached)

“Plain and Standardized Tobacco Packaging: Correcting the Myths” by the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association (attached)

 

source: Marvin Rotrand

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