Quit has slammed the tobacco industry for what it calls "deliberate delay tactics" over the introduction of new graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.
Although regulations around the new colour picture warnings came into force over 18 months ago, cigarette packs brandishing the new warnings are still few and far between.
Executive Director of Quit, Mr Todd Harper, said it was extremely disappointing that the graphic health warnings had not made much of an appearance, despite the tobacco industry having a March 1 deadline to begin printing the new packets.
"The tobacco industry appears to be prolonging the introduction of graphic health warnings for as long as possible because they know that they will be a strong motivating factor in encouraging smokers to quit."
"It really is a clear example of the insidious practices of the tobacco industry, once again, putting their own interests above the health and well being of the public."
Mr Harper said there could be no excuses over the delay to introduce new graphic health warnings given the ability of the tobacco industry to change packaging of cigarettes at a whim, often producing promotional packs tying in with sporting events like the Grand Prix.
"The tobacco industry has had over a year and half to make changes to warnings and in this time we have seen countless promotional packs come and go â€“ clearly they don't have a problem in changing the look of packs when it benefits their own marketing strategies."
"Unfortunately when it comes to complying with the intent of parliament and introducing a change to cigarette packaging that has the potential to have a meaningful impact on the devastating toll of tobacco in the community, the industry is not quite so quick off the mark."
In countries where graphic health warnings have already been introduced there has been increased quitting activity.
"The international experience suggests that the appearance of the health warnings in Australia, including images of a gangrenous foot and mouth cancer, could translate to a spike in the number of Australian smokers trying to kick the habit this year," said Mr Harper.
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811