Australia plans plain-packaging rule for cigarettes

Australia is to announce new rules which will force tobacco companies to use plain packaging, BBC quotes reports as saying. Manufacturers will be required to drop all colour and branding logos from cigarette packets within two years. The move, which is being billed as a world-first, comes after recommendations were made by the World Health Organisation. PM Kevin Rudd, who is to hold elections this year, aims to cut smoking-related deaths to under 10% by 2018. The decision is expected to be confirmed by Australia's Health Minister, Nicola Roxon. Smoking kills 15,000 Australians every year and is the largest preventable cause of disease and death in the country. The law will require all tobacco products to be sold in a standard colour and style with government health warnings by 2012. It follows regulations on tobacco advertising which have helped cut smoking significantly, from 30.5% of the population aged 14 and over in 1988 to 16.6% in 2007. An Australian think-tank has said that the rules amounted to compulsory acquisition of physical property and warned that it could result in expensive compensation claims. In 2008, the Australian tobacco market generated revenues of USD 7.6 bn (GBP 5m).

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