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Quit calls for plain packaging on cigarettes as ACCC announces $9 million advertising campaign

Monday 19 December, 2005

Quit has welcomed news of a $9 million dollar consumer awareness campaign advising of the health dangers of 'light' and 'mild' cigarettes.

However Quit's Executive Director, Mr Todd Harper, has warned that tobacco companies are already using new forms of packaging to create similar misleading impression in the minds of smokers.

'This is done by using descriptions on tobacco packs such as fine, subtle and smooth and using lighter colours on packet previously marketed as 'light' or 'mild.''

'The only way to control these insidious tactics is to force the tobacco industry to adopt plain packaging on all tobacco products.'

'The industry should not allowed to be using evocative words, numbers or colours in the marketing of cigarette brands, and we would call on the Federal Government to regulate to prevent this.'

Quit has warned the more than half of all Australian smokers mistakenly believe 'light' and  mild' cigarettes are less dangerous. 

'Even if you only smoke low-tar cigarettes you are vulnerable to the same smoking caused diseases as those who smoke other cigarettes.'

'There is no evidence that smokers of  light' or  mild' cigarettes have less risk of smoking caused diseases than smokers of other cigarettes,' said Mr Harper.

Mr Harper said there is no doubt that a significant number of people who smoke low-tar cigarettes have been hoodwinked into thinking that the product they have chosen is less harmful.

'Almost 80% of Australian smokers report smoking  light' or  mild' cigarettes, and unfortunately the majority of these smokers do so in the false believe that  light' and  mild' cigarettes are better for their health than other brands of cigarettes,' said Mr Harper.

'The idea that some cigarettes are safer than others is a tobacco industry ruse, cleverly marketed to the public to get health conscious smokers to switch to  light' and mild' brands rather than quit smoking altogether.'

Mr Harper said the number of smokers who may have put off quitting under the mistaken belief that switching to  lights' or  milds' would greatly reduce their risk of illness, disability or death from tobacco-related disease cannot be overestimated – making the damage caused by the tobacco industry deception immeasurable.

The campaign, kicking off on Boxing Day, follows the ACCC announcement that it had concluded that the tobacco industry's marketing of 'light' and 'mild' cigarettes was likely to have breached the Trade Practices Act 1974.

'The ACCC campaign provides an important opportunity to tell the truth to Australia's smokers, and we welcome the ACCC's efforts to better inform the Australian public.'

IF YOU WANT TO QUIT SMOKING, CALL THE QUITLINE ON 13 7848.

For further information please contact Edwina Vellar, Media Manager on 0417 303 811      

Descriptor Type of cigarettes smoked, by smoking status.

Total Regular smokers (%)

Daily smokers (%)

At least weekly smokers* (%)

Descriptor Type of cigarettes

(N=517)

(n=485)

(n=32)

Mild

11.1

11.0

12.3

Special Mild

4.4

4.7

0.0

Medium Mild

0.4

0.4

0.0

Extra Mild

21.5

21.1

27.8

Ultra Mild

12.0

12.2

7.9

Super Mild

20.3

21.3

5.3

Micro Mild

0.2

0.2

0.0

Light/s

4.3

4.2

6.9

Extra lights

0.3

0.3

0.0

Ultra Light

1.4

1.1

7.0

Super Light

1.0

0.8

3.8

Lights 6

0.6

0.6

0.0

Total  lights' /  milds'

77.5

77.9

71.0

One

1.4

1.4

2.4

Ultra

1.1

0.9

4.1

Ultimate

2.9

2.8

5.1

Other***

13.0

13.1

10.8

Total non- lights'/  milds'

18.4

18.2

22.4

* Does not include daily smokers.               
** Columns do not add up to 100 as table excludes  don't know/can't say'
***Other includes labels  Super',  De luxe',  Special filter',  Filter',  King size filter',  Regular',  Virginia',  Other-unspecified'.

Data from the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, The Cancer Council Victoria

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