Govt prepares plain pack legal action
Tue, 19 Feb 2013 6:04p.m.
By Brook Sabin
Cabinet has agreed to the controversial introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes. It would see New Zealand become the only country in the world after Australia to remove tobacco branding from cigarette packs.
But there's a catch: we're not really going to join the battle until the war's been won.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is about to deliver a king hit to big tobacco.
“The move to plain packaging would make more explicit what tobacco is – a product that kills 5000 people each year,” she says.
But the Government will first wait to see what happens with legal action on plain packaging in Australia. Late last year they were the first country in the world to introduce the packs. But the World Trade Organisation is investigating that decision, and whether it's legal to strip a product of its branding.
“Naturally the Government wants to be cautious and make sure we're doing the right thing,” says Ms Turia.
And crucially, the man who hits the go button couldn't muster up any fighting talk.
“If we can we will,” says Prime Minister John Key. “If we can't, we won't.”
The biggest tobacco company in the country – British American Tobacco – senses weakness, and isn't ruling out court action.
“We certainly think we are up to any legal challenges we face,” says Ms Turia.
But the minister couldn't give a definitive date on when the packs would be introduced.
“If everything went smoothly we should be able to expect that next year some time,” she says.
But of course, when you're up against multi-billion dollar tobacco companies, nothing is going to go smoothly.
Ms Turia will retire at the next election, and hopes this will be one of her biggest achievements. But big tobacco will fight all the way to ensure it isn't.
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20/02/2013 6:34:52 p.m.
Why bother changing the packet just ban the tobbaco from this world.
20/02/2013 4:17:53 p.m.
Sounds like a smart move to me Charlie.
19/02/2013 8:14:33 p.m.
"Cabinet agreed to plain packaging. It will see New Zealand become 'JUST THE ONLY COUNTRY' in the world (after Australia) to remove Tobacco Branding from cigarette packs"
In other words... NZ is the first country to FOLLOW Australia. However... We'll let Australia do all the fighting and if they win the WTO court case, only then, will we jump on the ban wagon.
19/02/2013 7:26:27 p.m.
it would be a shame if all mrs turia's hard work were to be undone because our gutless excuse for a prime minister didn't have the courage to actually follow through on this.
19/02/2013 6:54:11 p.m.
There's an easy way to fund the Legal Action, take it out of Treaty claims as it's their party that caused it all.
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