Quit Victoria has labelled a move to stop tobacco companies from marketing their cigarettes using the words 'light' and mild’, as a step in the right direction.
Deals announced last night, between the ACCC and British American Tobacco Australia Limited (BATA) and Philip Morris Limited, will mean the removal of the words light’, mild’, and micro’ from cigarette packaging within the next two months and see the companies contributing $8 million towards a corrective advertising campaign.
Quit Victoria’s Executive Director, Mr Todd Harper, said the removal of light’ and mild’ descriptors from cigarette packaging would restrict the decades long deceptive practices of the tobacco industry.
""Over 50% of Australians who smoke light’ and mild’ cigarettes think there is some reduced health risk in doing so regardless of health evidence that they are no safer than any other cigarette,"" said Mr Harper.
“For far too long, the tobacco industry have been playing the public for fools over this issue so it is a positive development to see this misleading conduct restricted.”
Mr Harper said although the BATA and Phillip Morris were being forced to give up light’ and mild,’ the public should be wary of the introduction of new packaging that carries a similar implication.
“Although light’ and mild’ packaging will be removed, BATA and Phillip Morris have already begun to introduce new packaging, and suggestive phrases such as fine, smooth, fresh and chilled.”
“We also remain concerned that under their agreement with the ACCC, BATA is free to continue using misleading tar measurements on cigarette packaging.”
“Put simply the industry should not allowed to be using these evocative words, numbers or colours in the marketing of cigarette brands, and we would call on the Federal Government to regulate to prevent this.”
As part of their deals both BATA and Philip Morris, will contribute $4 million each to a consumer education campaign.
“$4 million is small change to BATA who last year posted a profit of $200 million, and to Phillip Morris who boasted a $155 million profit in Australia, so it is a little disappointing that their contribution to a campaign is nothing more than pocket money.”
“Although $8 million is not enough to undo the damage of such a massive deception, the success of the National Tobacco Campaign which began in 1997, has taught us that this funding is a good start in developing an effective campaign.”
Mr Harper said he hoped the ACCC would take decisive action against cigarette maker, Imperial Tobacco, who had refused to co-operate with the ACCC.
“We hope and expect the ACCC takes immediate legal action against Imperial Tobacco. It is unacceptable that they would continue to market light’ and mild’ in such a misleading manner.”
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