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Dirty tricks by tobacco industry show even greater need for plain packaging

Thursday 8 April, 2010

Quit Victoria has slammed Philip Morris for displaying hidden advertisements on some of its cigarette packets that liken smoking to classic Australian pastimes and habits.

The 'Another classic' series includes ads featuring backyard cricket and another depicting the 'classic' Australian way of abbreviating people's names (see photos at Quit website).

QUIT Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said the fact that Philip Morris has been quoted today as saying their cricket reference was meant to depict a "classic Australian pastime with a classic smoke" was a disgrace.

"This under handed tactic is a slap in the face to the 15 thousand Australian families who lose a loved one each year because of smoking. Half of all long term smokers will die from a smoking related illness. There's nothing "classic" or "Australian" about that."

The Department of Health and Ageing is investigating the campaign.

Ms Sharkie said the fact Philip Morris has been making a mockery of the laws shows the need for plain packaging to be introduced as recommended by the Preventative Health Taskforce without delay.

"Where traditional forms of advertising are banned, packaging now serves as the main vehicle for tobacco marketing. Research from the tobacco industry itself shows the design of a cigarette pack generates influential images about the type of person who might typically smoke the brand, and what to expect from the smoking experience."

"The fact that Philip Morris is now printing appealing messages inside its packets proves they think it is a powerful way to lure new smokers and keep current smokers buying cigarettes."

"Stripping cigarette packs of colours, brand imagery, corporate logos and trademarks is one of the most straight-forward tobacco control policies the Commonwealth Government could introduce to reduce the devastating and unnecessary toll of tobacco on our community," Ms Sharkie said.

A move to plain packaging would mean that cigarette manufacturers would be permitted to print only the brand name in a mandated size, font and location, in addition to required health warnings and other legally mandated information such as toxic constituents, tax-seals or pack contents.

To organise a comment from Fiona Sharkie, please contact Quit Media Coordinator Jessica Longbottom on 0438 714 264.

Find out the facts about plain packaging of cigarettes, including a summary of research evidence.