ASH welcomes the end of tobacco branding in New Zealand

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As of today, March 14th, Tobacco companies will no longer be able to sell cigarettes in branded packaging. All cigarette released for sale from today must be sold in plain, olive brown generic packaging.

Retailers have until the 6thJune to get rid of their branded tobacco stock, from which point it will only be permitted to sell tobacco in plain packaging.

ASH – Action for Smokefree Aoteroa 2025 says that the introduction of plain packaging is long overdue. ASH Programme Manager, Boyd Broughton said: ‘ASH first campaigned on plain packaging thirty years ago and it has been 55 years since cigarette advertising was banned, on TV and radio in New Zealand.  It’s astonishing that over half a century later we are only just finishing the job’.

The tobacco industry has exploited and abused its power for far too long. ‘Tobacco companies have spent millions of dollars fighting this measure since the early nineties. They have spent large on TV campaigns, legal challenges and setting up fake retail associations to fight it. This has been a marathon battle against a global giant’ said Broughton.

However, Broughton says that this is only one of a suite of strategies recommended by the Māori Affairs Select Committee to achieve a Smokefree 2025 goal and New Zealand has a lot of work left to do. ‘We only have seven years left to achieve the Smokefree goal. It’s a sprint to the finish, and we urge the new Government to start running’.

One measure he proposes is to take advantage of less harmful alternatives to smoking.

The law will not apply to e-cigarettes and vaping products. Broughton said: ‘It is important that this law change discriminates against the most harmful tobacco products – the cigarette. Since New Zealand banned tobacco advertising on TV in 1963, cigarettes have killed over quarter of a million New Zealanders – and continue to cost us over 5,000 lives and over 800 Māori lives per year. There are safer alternatives, and letting people know about these instead of cigarettes could save a lot of early and preventable deaths’.

A brief timeline of tobacco advertising in New Zealand

 1948    - First campaign by the Department of Health on the harms of smoking

1963    - Cigarette advertising banned in television and radio in New Zealand

1973    - Cigarette advertising on billboards and cinema screens banned

1974    - Health warnings appear on cigarettes

1990    - Smokefree Environments Act bans tobacco sponsorship of sporting events

           - Health Sponsorship Council established to replace tobacco sponsorship with Smokefree branding

1995    - Tobacco sponsorship ends

            - Tobacco branding on shop exteriors banned

1997    - Size of tobacco advertising in stores in reduced, and retailer incentives to sell cigarettes are banned

2004    - All workplaces, schools and early childhood centres required to go smokefree

2008    - All cigarettes and tobacco pack are required to have graphic health warnings covering 90 percent of the pack

2012    - All point of sale advertising of tobacco is banned, and cigarettes and tobacco product must not be on display

2018    All cigarettes and tobacco must be sold in plain packaging