Standardised Packaging

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Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill Passes Third Reading

The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill has passed its third reading on 08 September 2016 after being first introduced in 2013.

The bill has been on hold since 2014 after tobacco companies in Australia and other countries legally challenged the legislation. Those challenges and consequently other similar challenges around the world have all failed.

This gave our government the required courage to pass the legislation requiring that all cigarettes and other tobacco products would be in brown or green coloured packaging, similar to what is required in Australia.

This is a great step forward for the goal of making New Zealand/Aotearoa Smokefree by the year 2025. Ensuring tobacco is no longer presented in bright attractive packaging that belies the truth to our young Smokefree New Zealanders that tobacco is a normal retail product and the packaging does not reflect the 5,000 plus New Zealanders who die each year from tobacco-related harms.

It is expected the legislation will be implemented in the coming year 2017.

Congratulations New Zealand/Aotearoa!


Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill Passes Second Reading

The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill has passed its second reading on 30 Jun 2016 after being on hold since 2014.

Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga announced draft regulations and a consultation document for plain (standardised) packaging for cigarettes on 31 May 2016. Prime Minister John Key indicated that implementation would start early next year.

The bill must still pass its committee and third reading stages before it becomes law. You can follow the progress of the bill on the New Zealand Parliament website.

plain packs example

MP Marama Fox stubs out Big Tobacco in plain packs debate

ASH NZ congratulates Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox on her strong words in her debate with Imperial Tobacco spokesperson Axel Gietz on TV3’s The Nation.

You can watch the full debate on Newshub.

Marama Fox on The Nation


Associate Health Minister Announces Plain Packs to Pass

ASH NZ congratulates Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga on announcing draft regulations and a consultation document for standardised cigarette packaging.

“These draft regulations and consultation are another important step in the process towards Smokefree 2025,” Minister Lotu-Iiga says. “The design and appearance of cigarette packets are powerful marketing tools for vendors. The Government is proposing to use the standard brown-green packaging which is similar to what is used in Australia.”

There is overwhelming evidence from Australia that standardised (plain) packaging is effective. The public consultation process will enable the government to maximise on latest evidence from both Australia and New Zealand.

ASH Director Stephanie Erick says, “This is exciting news for New Zealand on World Smokefree Day.  We should not be afraid to stand up against the tobacco industry.  We should be fearless and courageous in implementing public health measures we know will save lives.“

It is expected that the Smokefree Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill will be passed this year, with regulations coming into effect after that. Prime Minister John Key indicated that implementation would start early next year.

The draft regulations and consultation document are available on the Ministry of Health website, with consultation ending July 29.


Plain packs infographic


ASH has been tirelessly working with the tobacco control sector, the government and other political parties to advocate for a Bill which will lead to the introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products in New Zealand. This is also a key step outlined by the World Health Organisation’s treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (please see our vision to read more on this).

In New Zealand, standardised packaging is set to be introduced as part of the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill which is currently awaiting its second reading at the House of Parliament. It has been delayed pending the outcome of the complaints made through the World Trade Organisation against the Australian Government, the outcome of which is not due until 2016.

ASH believes the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill represents a vital step towards achieving a smoke free New Zealand by 2025. As such we are supporting the immediate advancement of the Bill by providing and highlighting sound evidence to the Government and other public representatives. Our aim is to contribute to the national conversation and enable political representatives to make informed decisions with honest and logical evidence. Strong research is integral to this and includes:

Australia introduced legislation for standardised packaging of tobacco products in 2012, while Ireland approved similar legislation in 2014. The United Kingdom is set to introduce standardised packaging in 2016.

Predictably, the tobacco industry has been extremely resistant to these legislations and is actively lobbying tobacco producing countries (e.g. Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras) to pursue legal action against the Australian Government through the World Trade Organisation. Tobacco companies from Ireland and the United Kingdom have also threatened legal action against their respective government. However there is no academic research to prove claims made by industry that standardised packaging ‘won’t work’ as most of the evidence cited by them either lacks policy relevance or key indicators of quality.[i]

Tobacco product packaging is designed both to attract young people and mislead them about the products’ strength and relative harm.[ii] Research consistently shows that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion is strongly associated with a higher likelihood of adolescents and young people starting smoking.[iii] There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that standardised packaging of tobacco products can mitigate the uptake of tobacco use, especially among young people, while reducing overall tobacco consumption of existing smokers.[iv],[v] In Australia where standardised packaging was introduced in 2012, annual tobacco consumption has fallen from 15.1% in 2010 to 12.8% in 2013.[vi]



[i] Harchard, J. L. (2014). A critical evaluation of the volume, relevance and quality of evidence submitted by the tobacco industry to oppose standardised packaging of tobacco products. BMJ Open, e003757. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003757

[ii] Moodie, C., Ford, A., Mackintosh, A. M., & Hastings, G. (2011). Young People’s Perceptions of Cigarette Packaging and Plain Packaging: An Online Survey. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 14(1), 98-105.

[iii] Lovato C, Linn G, Stead LF, Best A, (2003). Impact of Tobacco advertising and promotion on increasing adolescent smoking behaviors (Review). Cochrane Database. (4):CD003439

[iv] Moodie, C., Stead, M., Bauld, L., McNeill, A., Angus, K., Hinds, K., Irene, K., Thomas, J., Hastings, G., O’Mara-Eves, A. (2012). Plain Tobacco Packaging: A Systematic Review. London: Public Health Research Consortium.

[v] Pechey, R., Spiegelhalter, D., & Marteau, T. M. (2013). Impact of plain packaging of tobacco products on smoking in adults and children: an elicitation of international experts’ estimates. BMC Public Health, 13, 18. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-18

[vi] The Australian Government Department of Health. (2015). Tobacco key facts and figures.   Retrieved 21 Februrary, 2015, from