Lobby groups set plain packaging tone

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 08:30 11/02/2013

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Almost all of the nearly 20,000 submissions on plain packaging for tobacco were on pre-packaged postcards or letters produced by groups lobbying for one side or the other.

Nearly 12,000 submitters opposed plain packaging, while about 8300 supported it.

However, nearly all those submissions were pre-packaged by health groups in support of the proposal, or tobacco companies and associated groups in opposition.

In one instance, the same letter - declaring that plain packaging would not stop people smoking - was submitted by 7543 people. It is unclear who produced it.

An "I say no to plain packaging" postcard and template - produced for retailers by New Zealand's three biggest tobacco companies - was submitted by more than 3000 people.

Nearly all submissions opposing plain packaging appear to have come from tobacco retailers.

More than half the submissions supporting plain packaging were letters, petitions or postcards provided by plainpacks.org.nz, a website set up by anti-tobacco and other health groups.

Tobacco companies have launched an aggressive campaign to block plain packaging in New Zealand, with global lobbying and an expensive advertising campaign.

They have also threatened legal action against the Government, claiming plain packaging would violate their intellectual property.

The Australian Government introduced plain packaging for cigarettes last year after a failed legal challenge from the tobacco industry.

The Ministry of Health has already made a recommendation to the Government on plain packaging.

The Cabinet has yet to make a decision.

Contact Ben Heather
Social Issues reporter
Email: ben.heather@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @BHeatherJourno

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- The Dominion Post

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