Ten years of world-leading reforms and reigniting the fight against tobacco addiction

As Australia marks the 10th anniversary of Labor’s world-leading tobacco plain packaging laws, the Australian Government is reigniting the fight against tobacco addiction with new measures.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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As Australia marks the 10th anniversary of Labor’s world-leading tobacco plain packaging laws, the Albanese Government is reigniting the fight against tobacco addiction with new measures.

After nine years of delay and inaction, the gains of Labor’s world-leading plain packaging reforms have been squandered and the poorest and most marginalised Australians have paid the price. Long term smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers and tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability.

Australia needs to reclaim its position as a world leader on tobacco control, which is why the Albanese Government plans to introduce new legislation to bring down smoking rates.

Australia’s current patchwork quilt of eight different tobacco-related laws, regulations, instruments and court decisions is convoluted, outdated and full of loopholes.

The Government’s Reignite The Fight Against Tobacco Addiction reforms will bring together all of Australia’s current tobacco measures -- along with 11 new measures – into a single streamlined and effective Act of Parliament that will re-ignite the fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction.

We will pursue measures to update and improve the graphic warnings on tobacco products and – for the first time – will look to make individual cigarettes dissuasive with unattractive colours or printed warnings like “smoking kills”.

The reforms will also move to remove the loopholes that have allowed tobacco companies to promote and market their products by:

  • standardising the size of tobacco packets and products
  • preventing the use of specified additives in tobacco products, including flavours and menthol
  • standardising the design and look of filters
  • limit the use of appealing names on products that falsely imply these products are less harmful, like “organic” or “light”.

The reforms will also require health promotion inserts in packs and pouches – and update advertising regulation to capture e-cigarettes.

The reforms will require tobacco companies to be open and transparent about their sales volumes and pricing, product ingredients and emission along with their advertising, promotion and sponsorship activities.

The reforms will put us back into a world-leading position, alongside fellow OECD nations like New Zealand and Canada.

The former government was asleep at the wheel on vaping. Our children are paying the price for that division and delay.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration will kick off a public consultation process on vaping that will seek to understand where the current regulatory framework falls short and what action governments can take to move the dial.

The public consultation will be open until 16 January 2023.

The introduction of tobacco plain packaging by the Labor Government in December 2012 was a world-first. In the decade since, 26 nations have since followed suit with their own plain packaging laws.

Thanks to a comprehensive strategy involving tobacco plain packaging, graphic health warnings, rolling tobacco excise increases, advertising restrictions, public health campaigns and quit smoking support, far fewer Australians smoke today.

Introducing plain packaging was hard-fought, with the Labor Government facing down fierce opposition from an unholy alliance between the Coalition and tobacco companies.

Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:

“Australia needs to reclaim its position as a world leader on tobacco control. Because, quite frankly, lives are at stake. Disadvantaged Australians are paying the price for Big Tobacco’s profits.”

“When Peter Dutton was Shadow Health Minister he described our world-leading and life-saving reforms as ‘a bridge too far’. Just imagine where we’d be if Labor hadn’t fought for these reforms. Imagine where the 1 million Australians who have since quit smoking would be.”

“The Coalition has been on the wrong side of history before on tobacco control. I hope these new reforms are met with bipartisanship.”

“I’d like to pay tribute to Nicola Roxon for the courage of action, clarity of thought, and conviction that she brought to plain packaging, in the face of an aggressive campaign from Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott and Big Tobacco.”

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