Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said yesterday that the Cabinet had agreed to introduce plain packaging alongside Australia – but only after public consultation.
It is the next step in the Government's drive to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025. From July, a ban will come into force on the open display of cigarette and tobacco packs in all shops.
So far this term, this is the Maori Party’s signature win. Last term the party secured a select committee inquiry into smoking. The inquiry resulted in, among other things, a tax hike on cigarettes – not insignificant securing a tax rise under a National government. After Whanau Ora, the Maori Party’s efforts for a smokefree New Zealand by 2025 have resulted in the most tangible benefits for Maori. The Maori smoking rate is trending down and the rate among Maori girls, a notorious smoking group, is dropping dramatically.
Plain packaging isn’t guaranteed, however, with British American Tobacco saying that they’ll “take every action necessary to protect its intellectual property rights”. Australia, the first country to introduce plain packaging, is currently facing a legal challenge from British American Tobacco. Public consultation will also occur.