Plain Packaging of Shisha and Molasses Tobacco - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions on shisha/waterpipe and molasses tobacco and compliance with the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (and other relevant legislation)

Page last updated: 13 November 2015

Contents

Plain Packaging of Shisha and Molasses Tobacco Products
Shisha and Molasses Tobacco Products that are Packaged in Foil
Further Information
Information for Tobacco Suppliers

Shisha/waterpipe tobacco includes molasses-, fruit- and herbal-based tobacco products. Although these types of products are commonly referred to as shisha they may also be described by other names including hookah, narghile, maasal, mu,assel, tumbak, tunback and ajami.
Question 1. Does plain packaging apply to shisha and molasses tobacco products?
Yes. If the shisha, fruit-, herbal- or molasses- based product contains any tobacco, all layers of the packaging for retail sale or supply must comply with the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011.

Fruit or herbal-based products that do not contain tobacco are not required to be in plain packaging.

Question 2. Do shisha and molasses tobacco products need to be supplied in packaging with a health warning?
Yes. The Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 (the Standard) requires that all tobacco products supplied by way of retail sale must be in retail packaging when supplied to the purchaser, so that the health warnings are displayed to the consumer at the time they take possession.

The retail packaging must comply with the Standard, the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (the Act) and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 (the Regulations). It should be noted that the packaging requirements of the Act and the Regulations apply to any supply in Australia – not only a retail sale.

You cannot supply tobacco products to the consumer pre-packed in a smoking device. Further information is available on the Product Safety Australia website.

Question 3. Am I responsible for repackaging my shisha and molasses tobacco products if they are in non-compliant packaging?
If you have shisha or molasses products that:
1. contain any tobacco;
2. are in non-compliant packaging; and
3. you intend to offer for sale, sell or otherwise supply;
you must repackage the products into compliant packaging before offering them for sale, selling or otherwise supplying the products.

Question 4. Where do I get compliant packaging for shisha and molasses tobacco products?
If you are a retailer you should contact your supplier or manufacturer to discuss. If you are a supplier/importer/manufacturer of products intended for sale in Australia, you need to make arrangements for compliant packaging in accordance with the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011.

Question 5. What health warnings have to be on shisha and molasses tobacco products?
The Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 (the Standard) should be used to determine the mandatory health warnings required on the retail packaging of shisha or molasses tobacco products.

The health warnings required on the retail packaging of these products are set out in Part 3 and Part 4 of the Standard. The requirements on how these health warnings are to be displayed are set out in Part 2 and Part 9 of the Standard. The health warnings must be printed on the retail packaging or printed on an adhesive label that is firmly affixed to the retail packaging in a manner that complies with Section 9.8 of the Standard.

The health warnings for shisha and molasses tobacco products are required to rotate in two sets of seven warnings every 12 months in accordance with Part 9 of the Standard.

A DVD and cropping guide containing the individual graphics to enable the production of graphic health warnings as per the requirements of the Standard can be obtained by sending an email to Health Warnings.

Question 6. Am I able to put a non-compliant shisha or molasses tobacco package into a compliant cigar bag?
No. All layers of the tobacco product packaging must comply with the requirements of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011.
1. Tobacco products must first be taken out of non-compliant packaging and repackaged in compliant packaging.
2. Cigar bags cannot be used for products other than cigars because the health warnings required for these bags are specific to cigars. See response to Question 5 for further information.
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Shisha and Molasses Tobacco Products that are Packaged in Foil

Question 7. Does the foil in which shisha or molasses tobacco is commonly packaged need to comply with the plain packaging requirements?
Yes. Under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011, some of the key requirements relating to foil packaging are:
1. All outer surfaces of primary packaging must be in a drab dark brown colour known as Pantone 448C in a matt finish (‘primary packaging’ is defined as a container for retail sale in which a tobacco product is directly placed).
2. The outer and inner surfaces of the shisha or molasses foil package cannot have any embellishments such as irregular textures or ridges.
3. Each inner surface of primary packaging must be white or the colour of the packaging material in its natural state.
4. The sealed foil package must comply with minimum size requirements. This means the largest dimension must be at least 85mm and the second largest dimensions must be at least 55mm.
The full requirements, including the appearance of names and markings on packaging, are contained in the Act and the Regulations.

Question 8. Is a health warning required to be on the inner foil containing the shisha or molasses tobacco?
Yes. A health warning that complies with the requirements of the Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 must be on the foil package – either printed on the packaging or in the form of an adhesive label. See response to Question 5 for further information.

Question 9. Can I put a compliant shisha or molasses tobacco foil package into another container such as a box or a bag?
Yes. You can put a compliant shisha or molasses tobacco foil package into another compliant container:
1. Under the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 the other container must comply with the colour and finish requirements. The outer surfaces must be in the colour Pantone 448C and only permitted brand and other markings are allowed. The inner surfaces must be either white or the colour of the packaging material in its natural state.
2. A health warning that complies with the requirements of the Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 must be on both the shisha or molasses foil package and on any container in which the foil package is placed. See response to Question 5 for further information.
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Further Information

Question 10. Where can I find further information on the plain packaging requirements for shisha and molasses tobacco products?
For further information on the packaging requirements refer to sections 18 to 26 of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and to the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011, available on the ComLaw website. You can also find further information on tobacco plain packaging on the Tobacco Plain Packaging webpage.

Question 11. Where can I find further information on the graphic health warning requirements for shisha and molasses tobacco products?
For further information on health warnings refer to the Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011, available on the ComLaw website. You can also find further information on health warnings on the Product Safety Australia website.

Information for Tobacco Suppliers

As a supplier of tobacco products, it is your responsibility to gain and maintain an understanding of what is required of you under the relevant legislation. Further information is available from the following sources:
  • Tobacco Plain Packaging webpage and the Product Safety Australia website
  • The Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 on the ComLaw website
  • The Competition and Consumer (Tobacco) Information Standard 2011 on the ComLaw website and The Supplier Guide Product Safety: – Tobacco product health warnings on the Product Safety Australia website
  • For enquiries specific to health warnings call the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Info Centre on 1300 302 502
  • For enquiries specific to tobacco plain packaging (other than graphics and health warnings) Tobacco Plain Packaging complaints line on 1800 062 971 or email Plain Packaging Complaints
  • To obtain a DVD and/or cropping guide containing the individual graphics to enable the production of graphic health warnings, email your request to Health Warnings
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NOTE: This information has been provided as a guide only, and should not be relied upon as a source of legal advice. It is not a complete summary of the tobacco plain packaging and health warning requirements. You should obtain your own professional and legal advice in relation to the plain packaging and health warning requirements. All information in this publication is correct as at October 2015.

The content in this publication is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 no part may be reproduced without prior written permission from the Commonwealth.


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