The plain packaging law

February 11th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

A hard-hitting law change to stamp out the tobacco industry’s last avenue of marketing is likely to get wide support when it comes to Parliament.

The Smokefree Environments (Tobacco ) Amendment Bill could get its first reading today and is expected to be backed by all parties except New Zealand First and the Act Party.

On the eve of the debate, United States business groups fired a warning shot at the New Zealand Government, urging it to halt the “unwise” legislation because it trampled on company’s trademarks.

The Government expected to have to defend its plain packaging regime in court, and Prime Minister John Key said yesterday it would wait until Australia resolved its legal challenges before passing the legislation.

As I’ve said before, my preference is to trial plain packaging, and for it to be implemented only if it is effective in reducing smoking rates. Introduce it in say the South Island and over three years see how the smoking rates differ in the South Island compared to the North Island. If the South Island’s smoking rate reduces significantly faster than the North Island then implement it nationally. If it does not show a significant difference, then scarap it. Have the decision based on science and facts, not emotion.

The other issue is that we now know that whatever is pushed in the present as an anti-tobacco policy, will in a few years be also promoted for other industries such as alcohol, food, soft drinks, sugar etc.

Act leader John Banks, on the other hand, said he would oppose the bill. He told the Herald: “No one dislikes smoking more than me”. But he was against the state seizing property rights without compensation.

Will ACT be the only vote against? Maybe at select committee they could propose an amendment so the law is trialled before being implemented.

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40 Responses to “The plain packaging law”

  1. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    A shocking and dangerous attack on private property rights.

    We should all be very afraid.

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  2. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    On the eve of the debate, United States business groups fired a warning shot at the New Zealand Government, urging it to halt the “unwise” legislation because it trampled on company’s trademarks.

    What do you make of that?

    Are they worried activists in the US will pick up the idea and run with it, if we set a precedent?

    Are they the owners of the tobacco companies involved in NZ industry, just looking after their own interests?

    Is it a veiled threat to US/NZ trade cooperation?

    Other…?

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  3. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    Yes they can use it as a trial for when sugar, Moro bars and Coke tins are forced into plain packaging and taxed into the stratosphere.

    Roll on the nanny state

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  4. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    PS: What John Banks said.

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  5. Carlos (683 comments) says:

    Since a large number of our immigrants are from East Asia who have huge smoking rates, particularly among men, and those immigrants mostly settle in the North Island, then I think it’s obvious that the smoking rate will decrease slower in the North Island therefore guaranteeing that this legislation becomes permanent after a trial between the South Island and North Island. It’s a cunning trick.

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  6. EAD (1,454 comments) says:

    I don’t smoke tobacco and have no wish to, but what on earth has the design of cigarette packs got to do with the government? Instead of dictating to us what we eat, drink, smoke, think, drive, say etc, they were elected to run the country, eg. energy, education, economy, control the borders, law and order and defense.

    Just what is it with our current bunch of Statists in Parliament that they can’t sleep unless they’re telling others what to think, do, say and eat.

    Either ban it or leave it alone – Does no-one else see the sheer hypocrisy of our “Leaders” claiming a product is so dangerous that special measures need to be taken to keep children away from it, but still happily keep taking in the tax money from the sale of it?

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  7. Nigel (493 comments) says:

    I think its a dumb idea, it actively encourages the black market as Australia is finding out and doesn’t solve the problem, all you do is give gangs another source of revenue, its stupid.

    Far better to carry on making it less socially acceptable with the bans in restaurants, bars etc. Along with stop smoking campaigns, taxation, medical insurance penalties.

    For the record I gave up 4 years ago.

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  8. EAD (1,454 comments) says:

    PS: Did anyone vote in the referendum where we voted to make the NZ Government our parents?

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  9. dime (10,222 comments) says:

    What a disgraceful law this would be. The govt should be ashamed of itself.

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  10. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    Fascists.
    Loathe smoking but it’s a personal responsibility.
    Don’t mind laws that disallow it in public places but what one does iin their space and in their time and on themselves is their choice.
    Tax the shit out of them till they stop. Charge them the cost of their health care and that’s ok but remove their right to choose and its pisses me off.

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  11. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    Good grief, 2 years ago I was admitted to hospital, some fool wrote down that I had been a lifelong smoker when I had said the exact opposite. Every single bloody medical professional from the surgeon to the nurses came and told me off. I tried to tell them it was a hospital clerical cock up through my morphine induced haze but it was like talking to friggin brick wall.
    Finally got someone to write non-smoker on the white broad above my bed. That stopped about half of the persecution.

    Argghhhhh

    I can see in the not too distant future ” have you eaten a Moro bar in the last 6 months”, then all the cascade of shit that follows.

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  12. Nigel Kearney (1,101 comments) says:

    A reduction in brand loyalty will increase competition and lead to lower prices. This is basic stuff. That’s why tobacco companies don’t like it. But there’s no way that cheaper cigarettes will improve anybody’s health. Even if you don’t care about freedom of expression or property rights, it’s still a complete fail.

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  13. Andrei (2,653 comments) says:

    This is just Marxism by stealth – shameful that a supposedly “center right” government could even countenance such a law.

    But then again John Key’s 5th National Government has been anything other than “center right”.

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  14. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    How is it Marxism, Andrei?

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  15. Andrei (2,653 comments) says:

    Why this law is utterly lame brained

    (1) Philosophically: why is it a matter of legitimate government interest whether adult New Zealanders smoke or not?

    (2) There is a “target” to have New Zealand smoke free by 2025? or something. cf “five year plans” of the communist regimes and their failures due to the incomprehension of the planners into human nature and their indifference to the consequences of their “plans” on real human beings

    Which would you put your money on?

    (a) tobacco use is eliminated in NZ by that target date
    (b) Marijuana is a legal drug by that target date

    (3) Do you think it is smart to enact policies that will inhibit legal companies operating within the law and paying taxes in ways that will encourage transfer their legitimate business into the hands gangsters and those operating outside the law?

    (4) The tools and techniques being used to “eliminate” tobacco usage can and will be extended to other products and industries – kid yourself not on this matter – in the fullness of time it will be red meat and diary products that will be in the crosshairs – you might disapprove of tobacco but the anti capitalists will get to you in your turn.

    Think about this – it is a matter of serous concern and it needs robust debate not to be steamrollered through parliament

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  16. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    Smoking is more healthy than being gay. You live longer.

    Maybe they should plain package the fags as DPF suggests…….just a trial…….gays have to wear baige clothes in Wellington say………or Auckland rugby jerseys :cool:

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  17. wf (483 comments) says:

    C’mon guys – this is a market opportunity!

    Some bright kid will design a wallet for cigarette packs, which could be used for advertising – like mobile phones. There will be cheap ones made of plastic, and classy ones made of hand tooled leather, with diamond inserts and everything in between.
    Could turn into the newest ‘must-have’.

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  18. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    It gets more ridiculous by the minute.

    The UK can’t control its own borders but look what they do aspire to control.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2555756/Cameron-misses-crunch-Commons-vote-ban-smoking-cars-carrying-children-visit-flooded-Somerset.html

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  19. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Smoking is more healthy than being gay. You live longer.

    Maybe they should plain package the fags as DPF suggests…….just a trial…….gays have to wear baige clothes in Wellington say………or Auckland rugby jerseys

    A tax on fuckwit comments on blog sites would raise a fair amount of revenue. And it might even encourage a few people to log off and adopt healthier lifestyles?

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  20. Camryn (481 comments) says:

    wf – Pretty good! Or the tobacco companies could sell cigarettes in plain packaging and simultaneously give away empty boxes with their branding on it for consumers to put to any purpose they wish.

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  21. dime (10,222 comments) says:

    whats next? i suspect soft drinks. probably including diet ones. they may be allowed to keep their disgusting capitalist packaging if sweetened by stevia?

    the thing that scares me is this is happening under national.

    what s going to happen when united/greens/mana/labour/nzfirst/maori get in?

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  22. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    Come on DPF. We both know that once a trial was introduced there would be no going back, because there’d be civil war waged by the wowsers.

    Surely you, as an outspoken critic of the food nazis on this blog, would be against plain packaging of tobacco as well?

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  23. anonymouse (705 comments) says:

    The thing that annoys me most about this is use of the term “plain packaging” which brings to mind blank boxes,
    when infact it will involve mandating the use of large pictures of cancerous bodyparts,

    Now I couldn’t care less whether they legislated putting a teddy bear on the box, but to call the imposition of gruesome pictures “plain packaging” is truely newspeak

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  24. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    What’s next?Soft drinks…..that’s right and they are happy to use the anti tobacco tactics,just a matter of time.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/campus/university-otago/291158/eliminating-sugary-drinks-2025-aspirational-aim

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  25. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    I’m with ACT on this one. Imagine if the government tried to make Coke and Pepsi abandon their iconic branding. Well perhaps we won’t have to imagine that for long as that seems the next logical step. Once we establish the principal that the government can destroy the trademarked branding of items it doesn’t like there’s nothing really to stop them moving on to sugary and high-fat food. Soon the Big Mac will become the ‘large sized beef, veg and bun product’ and sold in a bag covered not in the golden arches but warnings about the fatal contents. All to save us from ourselves.

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  26. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    I’d love to see the gummint take on the likes of Coke and Pepsi.Then they’d have a real fight on their hands and one they’d hopefully lose and be shown up for the wankers they are.

    Sadly the assault on the tobacco industry that has been going on for 30 odd years is now bearing fruit and so much so that it seems governments feel safe to attack it and a large majority of voters have been won over to the interventionist side.

    Private property is very vulnerable to these once conservative parties.Very dangerous indeed.

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  27. Manolo (14,180 comments) says:

    As I’ve said before, my preference is to trial plain packaging, and for it to be implemented only if it is effective in reducing smoking rates.

    You’re on a very slippery slope, DPF. Soon you’ll be advocating the same for wine labels, spirits and fast food.
    A better and stronger defense of property and intellectual rights is what you need, not a feeble wowser attitude.

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  28. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    Nickb that is what I was going to say.

    And I might add that with the cost of smokes doubling by then people will smoke less daily, but what we wouild hear in 3yrs time is that “smoking is down 20% and plain packaging will stay”.

    No one other than Winnie will vote the other way.

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  29. calendar girl (1,259 comments) says:

    DPF: “As I’ve said before, my preference is to trial plain packaging, and for it to be implemented only if it is effective in reducing smoking rates.”

    Political expediency trumps political principles again.

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  30. wat dabney (3,850 comments) says:

    I am not to be allowed to see certain printed material because the state decrees it might be bad for me?

    There is no end to where that might lead.

    Let’s continue with the Bible and the Koran shall we. There can be no objection from supporters of this policy.

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  31. johnwellingtonwells (137 comments) says:

    Could we apply this principle to politicians? Plain packaging in boiler suits but in appropriate colours. This would get rid of comments about a designer dressed person with ample girth.

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  32. EAD (1,454 comments) says:

    First they came for the cigarettes, and I didn’t speak up because I’m not a smoker.

    Then they came for the trans fats and I didn’t speak up because I’m a healthy eater.

    Then they came for the foie gras and I didn’t speak up because it’s French.

    Then they came for the ice cream and I didn’t speak up because I’m lactose intolerant.

    And then they came for the rib eye. And by that time there was no one left to speak up because all of the restaurants were already out of business.

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  33. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    “As I’ve said before, my preference is to trial plain packaging, and for it to be implemented only if it is effective in reducing smoking rates. Introduce it in say the South Island and over three years see how the smoking rates differ in the South Island compared to the North Island.”

    That would be a bloody good initiative but only if you ran a series of TV ad’s to show South Islanders what a plain pack looked like.

    Otherwise you would get a false positive.

    They are South Islanders after all!! :)

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  34. Jack43 (3 comments) says:

    Surely doubling the tax on a pack of smokes will reduce smoking more than plain packaging will. All the tobacco companies are going to do is set up more sites like http://www.smoke-screenz.com and sell cases to put your packs in.

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  35. ChardonnayGuy (1,232 comments) says:

    As a diabetic, I wouldn’t mind advertising bans on oversugared drinks and sweets during childrens programme time. As for plain packaging, let’s apply it to sugared products. Insofar as Coke and Pepsi are concerned, perhaps they can be induced to provide new sugar-free product lines and provide more consumer choice for what they’ve acknowledged is a growing market segment for their products. I’d like to be able to consume diet or zero varieties of Vanilla Coke, Lemon Coke, Raspberry Coke or Lime Pepsi Max on a regular basis from their dispenser machines or on supermarket shelves.

    In this instance, I think a carrot (increased product line provision to an emergent market segment, who will appreciate it) is better than a stick. Corporate social responsibility exists, and if one is in the health promotion field, one needs to use such a strategy to appeal to corporate producers of such products.

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  36. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    wf says

    “C’mon guys – this is a market opportunity!

    Some bright kid will design a wallet for cigarette packs, which could be used for advertising – like mobile phones. There will be cheap ones made of plastic, and classy ones made of hand tooled leather, with diamond inserts and everything in between.
    Could turn into the newest ‘must-have’.”

    already happened in other regimes (and I use the term regime deliberately) very successfully where they stuck skull and crossbones on the packs from memory.

    This is on a par with the smacking ban and chipping dogs for ineffective and stupid directives from the state.

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  37. Jack43 (3 comments) says:

    This is the closest I’ve seen to what you’ve described. http://www.smoke-screenz.com Personalised cases for cigarette packs. Wouldn’t be surprised if they are back by a baccy company though.

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  38. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    “….I’d like to be able to consume diet or zero varieties of Vanilla Coke, Lemon Coke, Raspberry Coke or Lime Pepsi Max on a regular basis from their dispenser machines or on supermarket shelves…..”

    I want non-alcoholic Johhny Walker Scotch and Villa Maria non-alcoholic wine……..and both those companies should make it for me or else they are not being socially responsable?

    The problem is people like you shoddy……you want something that no one is producing – and then demand that others make it for you……and if not…..government should intervene.

    And you based it on what…..the fact you like the taste of vannila coke and want to drink it daily……without the sugar.

    Get a soda stream machine and good quality vanilla! :cool:

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  39. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    SEND THE TOBACCO PUSHES THE HOSPITAL BILLS
    AND LOST TAX REVENUE

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  40. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    WHAT TOTAL IDEOLOGICAL C R A P

    CHECK THE LINKS BETWEEN SMOKING AND

    MENTAL ILLNESS CUKOO CLOCKS

    THESE SCUM HIT BACK AT AUS By PUTTING ROOS on Cigarettes in EUROPE

    Fascinating to Watch so they have Won Globally out of their struggle with AUS
    the advertising they have got from this Debate will have still increased global sales

    YES THEY ARE THAT SYNYSTER SLIMEY AND CYNICAL THEY ALL ARE

    MIND YOU THE CENTRE RIGHT ARE DE BRANDING NZ AREN’T THEY NO FLAG
    NO IDENTITY

    THEY KNOW THE POWER OF BRANDS

    Property RIGHTS MY A U N TY

    ONE IN THREE PEOPLE IN NZ AND AUS WILL DIE OF CANCER

    YES NEW ZEALAND HAS A HIGH CANCER RATE EVEN WITH OUT
    THE CANCER STICKS

    EVER SEEN ANY ONE DIE OF IT?

    YOU SHOULD BE MADE TO WATCH THEM DIE SLOWLY

    MIND YOU IDEOLOGICAL CREEPS AND PERVERTS TAKE GREAT PERVERSE
    PLEASURE IN DISCUSSING LIFE AND DEATH ISSUES
    IT GIVES IMPOTENTS AND NOT JUST INTELLECTUAL MIDGETS A SENSE OF POWER

    KNOW ANYONE WHO HAS DIED OF IT?

    THE CENTRE RIGHT WING CAPED CANCER CRUSADERS LOVE THIS STUFF

    JESUS they must be wearing their undies on their heads because it’s cut of circulation to the brain

    DO NOTHING AND WATCH PEOPLE DIE SLOWLY IS WHAT THEY ARE ALL ABOUT

    WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO KIDS SUNSHINE

    GOT ENOUGH DEATH DONATIONS TO THE PARTY FUND

    IF YOU ARE ALL SO USER PAYS

    SEND THEM THE BILL FOR HOSPITALS

    HAVEN”T GOT THE BALLS OR THE BRAINS TO GIVE US AN
    ECONOMIC INDICATION OF THE COSTS OF YOUR FILTHY LITTLE PARASITIC
    INDUSTRY HAVE YOU

    AND EXTRA WIDOWS AND WIDOWERS WELFARE
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    WHO EDUCATES AND PAYS FOR THEIR KIDS
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    WE DO THROUGH EXTRA TAXATION

    WHAT A JOKE

    NEXT THING THEY WILL SAY IS PEOPLE GETTING CANCER IS GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY

    DO THEY STILL TARGET MAORI AND POLYNESIANS?

    DO THEY?’

    DON”T BE TOO SURPRISED TO SEE YOUR NATIONAL SYMBOLS ON PACKS IN EUROPE

    AND EVERYTHING GOOD ABOUT NZ AND ITS SYMBOLS
    BEINGS SOLD AS THE ANGEL OF DEATH

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