British American Tobacco Australia today launched a national media campaign which questions the Federal Government’s proposed plain packaging legislation and holds out the prospect of price cuts.
BAT Australia's CEO David Crow said confidential documents the company had obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) showed there was "no credible proof" that plain pack cigarettes would reduce smoking and that the government is prepared to spend millions of taxpayers dollars on legal fees.
BATA said a confidential briefing note indicated the government had budgeted AD 4.8 million to implement the legislation, but the figure did not include legal costs, estimated to be more than AD 10 million. "Can the Government give a hundred per cent guarantee that taxpayers dollars won’t be wasted on legal fees and compensation?", Crow asked.
He also speculated on cutting the price of cigarettes should plain packaging go ahead: “Does the Government want to see a situation where the tobacco industry is forced to compete on price as their brands have been taken away which in turn causes cheaper and therefore more accessible cigarettes?"
The campaign which runs under the slogan "Don't let the taxpayer foot the bill for a bad Bill" can be viewed here. BAT said the media campaign intends to "draw attention to the potential unintended consequences plain packaging could have".