The VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control (VCTC) and Quit have expressed disappointment at a deal between the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Imperial Tobacco.
The non-enforceable agreement between the consumer watchdog and Australia’s third largest tobacco company over the use of light’ and mild’ descriptions on cigarette packaging, has seen the company avoid having to contribute any money towards corrective advertising.
In addition, Imperial will have no liability for past actions and will have until March 2006 to completely remove all their products brandishing the light’ and mild’ descriptors.
Quit Victoria’s Executive Director, Mr Todd Harper, said on face value it appeared as though Imperial had managed to secure a favourable outcome in its dealings with the ACCC.
""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 less harmful than any other cigarette.""
""Tobacco companies have been misleading the public for decades when it comes to light’ and mild,’ so the action taken against Imperial seems disproportionate in the light of this massive public deception and the harms that it has caused.""
The VCTC’s Director of Law and Regulation, Mr Jonathan Liberman, said the lengthy period of time Imperial has to remove the lights’ and milds’ from shelves would surprise many people.
“Obviously the fact that the light’ and mild’ descriptions will be removed eventually is a positive development, but considering the ACCC came to the conclusion that these descriptions were misleading by February, the long-lead timeline for Imperial seems baffling.”
Mr Harper said the fact that Imperial had managed to escape making any financial contribution to a corrective advertising campaign was unacceptable.
“This agreement is a victory for a tobacco company that has shown complete disregard for Australian consumers. The lack of financial contribution to a corrective advertising campaign is the mark of a company that dismisses the harm wrought by its actions,” said Mr Harper
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