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Tobacco proposal goes too far - Imperial Tobacco

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Imperial Tobacco New Zealand agrees with Prime Minister John Key that smoking is a matter of choice for people who understand the risks.

However, if the Government is trying to send a message to people not to smoke and is trying to encourage them to quit, then plain packaging is not the answer.

"The Government has a wide range of educational and regulatory levers at its disposal to combat smoking," says the company's market manager Paul Warham.

"It is unclear why plain packaging has now been singled out given the lack of real world evidence about its effectiveness. Plain packaging has never actually been tested in practice. The Ministry of Health's own consultation document provides no detail as to what impact the Government expects plain packaging to have on smoking rates."

Imperial considers that plain packaging for tobacco products would have little impact on smoking rates, but would:

Impose costs on tobacco manufacturers, importers and other New Zealand employers without any corresponding benefit;

May breach the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act by unjustifiably limiting the right to free expression;

Potentially expose the New Zealand Government to legal action for breaching New Zealand's obligations under international trade agreements - the same agreements that protect New Zealand businesses operating overseas; and

Set a precedent for Government control over the packaging other consumer goods such as soft drink, snack food and alcohol.

"Heavy handed regulation like this can only be justified where it will have a clear and quantifiable impact," says Mr Warham. "That is clearly not the case here. This is a policy driven by politics, not evidence."

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