Health groups have put a big question mark over claims by Big Tobacco around the plain packaging of cigarettes in a new national campaign, reminding the public that this information comes from an industry with a history of misleading and deceptive behaviour.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said if you were to believe Big Tobacco, Australia will soon be flooded by illegal crime gangs and children would be buying cigarettes off the back of a truck.
"These are the desperate and bizarre ramblings of Big Tobacco in crisis. If we panicked every time the tobacco industry cried wolf we would still be exposed to second-hand smoke inside restaurants and bars and Paul Hogan would still be on television screens offering us a Winfield."
"This is an industry that time and time again put profit over public health and tries to block any meaningful tobacco reform in this country. Make no mistake - this is what's happening with plain packaging."
Harper's comments come as new campaign is released featuring satirist John Clarke acting as the ‘head honcho' of a tobacco company.
On television screen nationally from tonight the Plain Facts campaign takes a satirical look at Big Tobacco's new-found concern for the community, and points people to a website featuring the facts on plain packaging and a review of all peer-reviewed research to date supporting plain packaging.
Ex-tobacco industry executive and marketing expert and commentator Craig Seitam, said the proposed plain packaging of cigarette will hit sales hard.
"As a former insider, I can tell you that what you see on pack is everything to the tobacco industry and that's why they are fighting so hard to keep it there. The colours, shades, fonts and texture are key to recruiting new smokers and attracting current smokers."
"There is no doubt in my mind that when cigarettes are in plain packs less young people will smoke, and every tobacco industry executive around the world would know this."
Mr Harper said the Plain Facts campaign would help even more Australians understand why plain packaging will make a difference.
"Research shows plain packaging will reduce the appeal of cigarettes to young people, reduce deception about the harmfulness of cigarettes and increase the impact of graphic health warnings."
"As a country we should be doing everything we can to make a product that kills one out of two of its long term users less desirable. Tobacco is not a normal consumer product, so let's not allow it to be packaged like one."
Find out the facts about plain packaging of cigarettes, including a summary of research evidence.