Cigarette retailers believe new plain packaging will increase the sale of illegal tobacco and won’t stop smokers from lighting up. Last week, the Federal Government voted to support the changes, with all tobacco products sold in Australia to be in plain packaging from December 1 next year. But Dandy Tobacco owner Mohammad Rahimi said the laws would make it difficult for him when selling or organizing his stock.
“I’m not happy with that. The people will still smoke and (it will) also increase a lot of illegal tobacco,” Mr Rahimi said.
A Springvale tobacco retailer agreed the uniform packaging would make counterfeiting easy.
“From my perspective there’s a practical issue as well,” he said.
“When we receive the stock from manufacturers, it’s extremely difficult to distinguish between the different smokes. They look very similar.”
But Health Minister Nicola Roxon defended the move.
“We know that packaging remains one of the last powerful marketing tools for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers to their deadly products,” Ms Roxon said.
Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said Quit backed any move to reduce the desirability of a product “that kills one in every two long-term users”.
Cigarette giant Philip Morris Asia Limited has begun legal proceedings against the Federal Government by serving a notice of arbitration under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.
PMA is seeking a suspension of the new legislation as well as compensation.