A milestone for the anti-tobacco advocates

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Legislation banning the use of tobacco company branding on cigarette packaging has come into effect.

The law also sees an increase in the size of health warnings on packaging.

This latest development comes as the government ramps up efforts to reach the target of a Smokefree NZ by 2025.

CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora, Lance Norman says, “To take the branding off a product that actually becomes an addictive product and then can lead to 5000 deaths per annum it's actually a major milestone.”

New pictures and health warnings will be enlarged to cover at least 75% of the front of tobacco packs, and all tobacco company marketing imagery will be removed.

Norman says, “It is an attack on the entire supply chain because it takes away the branding appeal for looking cool from a marketing perspective.”

Tobacco researcher, Justinn Cochran, discussed her recent study at Auckland University, which focused on the graphic health warnings of tobacco packaging. 

“We found that exposing smokers to negative health warnings, particularly those that are more disgusting can reduce how much attention they pay to tobacco packaging, which often serves as a reminder to smoke," says Cochran, "These findings suggest that these legislative changes could be helpful in reducing the appeal of smoking and perhaps contribute towards changing attitudes around smoking.”

Te Kāea spoke with members of the public to gauge a reaction. 

“It's not really a big deal. It's not going to change anything. It's an image thing but overall it's a physical thing.”

“It's not what's on the packet it's what in the packet that everyone wants… I mean I've got my packet of smokes right here and if they're going to blast it it's not going to put anybody off.”

“It does put me off but it's just that I'm too addicted to cigarettes you know. I tried to give up but still go back.”

Norman says it's a step in the right direction but it's only a small component of what actually needs to happen.

“That's one part of it but we actually need to look at the product itself in terms of how do we get it off our shelves.”

Norman points out that this latest legislation is an opportunity to gain momentum in supply reduction and access in order to reach the Smokefree 2025 target.