The plain packaging law

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 Plain Packaging) 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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