The New Zealand Government has decided to bring in a new law before the end of 2013 package tobacco products in plain cartons.
Earlier in April 2012, the government gave its consent to introduce a plain packaging regime, in alignment with Australia's recent legislation, pending the outcome of a public consultation process, which closed on 5 October 2012.
The introduction of plain tobacco packaging will see the availability of cigarette packs and tobacco pouches with much larger pictorial health warnings and removal of the marketing imagery that tobacco companies use to endorse their products.
The colours and design of the cigarette packs will be standardised in regulations which have been designed to increase the impact of the health warnings.
As part of plain packaging, tobacco brand names will have to be printed in standard type fonts and sizes.
Associate Minister of Health Hon Tariana Turia said the consultation process generated massive interest and the written submissions provided useful information to inform cabinet's decision-making.
"While opinions were divided, with many smokers and tobacco retailers expressing opposition, overall the consultation process confirmed that plain packaging will be an effective means of reducing the appeal of smoking and removing the impression that tobacco may be less harmful than it is," Turia said.
At present, packaging with bright colours and other design elements deflects people's attention away from health warnings, and does everything it can to attract consumers and increase the perceived appeal and acceptability of smoking.
The packaging helps promote smoking to young and vulnerable people, besides helping smokers continue smoking.
The latest plain packaging move is expected to eliminate the last remaining hint of glamour from the deadly products, and is said to be yet another major step on the pathway of making New Zealand a smoke-free nation by 2025.
The Ministry of Health will begin developing the detailed policy which will include the size and content of health warnings.
Image: With the introduction of plain tobacco packaging cigarette tobacco packs will have much larger pictorial health warnings. Photo: Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government.