Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek has denounced a last effort marketing push from Imperial Tobacco ahead of enforced plain packaging laws, calling it the "ultimate sick joke".
Imperial Tobacco's new marketing for its Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes aims to play down the power plain packaging will have when it comes into effect on 1 October, by telling smokers the product on the inside is still the same.
The packaging, which features images of old labels being removed to show hints of plain packaging, carries the motto: "It's whats on the inside that counts."
An Imperial Tobacco spokesperson told AdNews: "It is also important to inform our adult consumers that the product itself will remain unchanged."
Plibersek said diseased lungs, hearts and arteries were the reality of what is actually happening inside smokers' bodies, and said in a statement: “For a company to have produced packs that contain the line, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” must surely be the ultimate sick joke from Big Tobacco.
“Smoking related diseases kill 15,000 Australians a year and the Government is determined to reduce the pain and suffering caused by this deadly product,” Plibersek said.
“We are seeing plain packaged packs hit the stores with major retailers expecting to receive deliveries this week.
“However, we will be closely watching the new packages to ensure that they comply with the regulations because we know that Big Tobacco will use every trick in the book to try and get around the new requirements," she said.
Plibersek also warned tobacco companies the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was monitoring all marketing.
“Where we identify any examples of possible non-compliance before the implementation dates we will be letting the companies know so they can rectify any issues,” said Plibersek.
Plain packaging will be enforced on all tobacco products manufactured or packaged for domestic consumption in Australia from 1 October 2012, with 1 December being the official date all cigarettes for retail sale in Australia must comply with the ruling.
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