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Quit calls for action on cheap online cigarette sales

Monday 19 June, 2006

Quit is calling for a ban on Internet sales of tobacco products to consumers.

The call follows news that an Australian website has been selling and promoting cheap cigarettes online, including packs without the new graphic health warnings and some featuring the misleading ‘light' and ‘mild' descriptors following action from the ACCC last year.

Executive Director of Quit, Mr Todd Harper said the operators of the website have clearly breached laws around tobacco advertising.

"Not only do statements on the homepage promote the purchase of cigarettes, the whole design of the website is clearly intended to promote cigarette purchases by visitors to the website. "

"Firm and decisive action must be taken to stamp out the practice of promoting and selling cigarettes online before the internet becomes a hotbed of tobacco marketing and below the line advertising."

Mr Harper said the website should be investigated for possible breaches of tobacco laws including tobacco sales relating to sales to children, promoting cigarettes without graphic health warnings, and payment of taxes and duties.

"The age verification systems used by Internet sellers are often inadequate, simply requiring the purchaser to click a button stating that he or she is over 18 years old."

Questions have also been raised as to how the operators of the website have been able to sell cigarettes at half the normal price, and how the website is able to promote cigarettes with misleading descriptors such as ‘light' and ‘mild.'

"It is difficult to know exactly how the business has been able to sell cigarettes in Australia at the prices it has been quoting. Given this, an investigation into the site to ensure compliance with Australian law is needed," said Mr Harper.

Quit has also called on credit card companies and postal services to join the fight against Internet sales of tobacco products.

"We would appeal to credit card and package delivery companies to refuse to do business with operators selling cigarettes over the Internet, as has happened in the United States"

"By following the lead of their US counterparts, the credit card and package delivery industries in Australia can take an important step towards keeping deadly tobacco products sold on the Internet out of the hands of Australian children."

ends

Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811
email:
Edwina.Vellar@cancervic.org.au

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