The latest industrial sales report has revealed that sales of tobacco increased in Australia in 2013 despite the introduction of plain packaging in December 2012.
Based on data provided by Philip Morris International, Australian firms sold approximately 21 billion cigarettes in plain packages last year, representing a 0.3% increase against 2012.
The plain packaging prohibits the use of logos, brand imagery, and promotional text on tobacco products and packaging. The packs also contain new and expanded health warnings.
The country hoped that the law would reduce the number of children getting attracted to smoking due to coloured packs.
A study commissioned by the Cancer Society of Victoria found that the plain packaging has had some impact on smokers. Australian smokers were found to be less satisfied with tobacco due to its lower quality. The sales of factory made cigarettes decreased to 18.75 billion in 2013, while sales of loose tobacco increased to approximately 2.3 billion, an increase of around 3.5%.
Tobacco firms have argued that the introduction of plain packaging has violated their trademark rights and may also restrict them from free trade. The firms also said that the concept of the standardised packaging has resulted in the rise of illicit tobacco sales, as the packs are easier to counterfeit.
Several other nations, including Ireland, New Zealand and the UK, are also considering introducing plain packaging for tobacco products.
Image: Australian cigarette packet showing health warnings. Photo: courtesy of Jack Greenmaven.