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Aussie smokers to be hit by tough new laws

SMOKING LAWS
Tougher laws to crack down on smoking will be unveiled in Parliament on Wednesday. Picture: NewsWire / Sarah Marshall

Tougher laws to crack down on cigarettes and vaping, including graphic warnings on individual cigarettes have been unveiled.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the tobacco control legislation was the ‘critical’ next step in the fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction, and getting the national smoking rate down to five per cent by 2030.

If passed, graphic warnings on cigarette packages would be updated and extended to individual cigarettes; additives like menthols could be outlawed; and, in a bid to stamp out vaping, vapes would be captured in advertising restrictions.

SMOKING LAWS
Mr Butler said Australia was ‘lagging’ behind other countries on vaping laws. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman

Australian border forces revealed they confiscated almost one billion illegal cigarettes over the past two years as the government moves to pass tough new smoking and vaping laws.

About $1.5 billion-dollars worth of illicit tobacco has been tracked down since 2018-19 which Health Minister Mark Butler flagged as an “ongoing challenge” for authorities.

“There is a lot of illegal tobacco and frankly, a lot of vapes coming into the country as well,” Mr Butler said.

“What I'm doing is relaunching the fight against Big Tobacco after 12 years of no additional reform to the world.”

The numbers come as tougher laws to crack down on cigarettes and vaping are set to be unveiled in parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Butler said the tobacco control legislation was the “critical” next step in the fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction, and getting the national smoking rate down to five per cent by 2030.

If passed, graphic warnings on cigarette packages would be updated and extended to individual cigarettes; additives like menthols could be outlawed; and, in a bid to stamp out vaping, vapes would be captured in advertising restrictions.

Mr Butler said after leading the charge with its plain-packaging reforms, Australia had become slack in the fight against tobacco addiction.

“Australia has been a leader in public health measures to discourage smoking, but after a decade of inaction, the gains of Labor’s world leading plain packaging laws have been squandered,” he said.

QUESTION TIME
Health Minister Mark Butler will introduce reforms to parliament on Wednesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

He said tobacco killed about 20,000 Australians every year, and was the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the country.

By 2030, Labor wants the national smoking rate down to under five per cent, and the First Nations rate down to 27 per cent.

If passed the size of packets and products, and the design of filters would be standardised; cigarettes and vapes would not be able to use “appealing names that imply reduced harm”, and health promotion inserts would be required to be inserted in packs and pouches.

*FILEPIX* General editorial generic stock image of Australian cigarette and smoking packaging. Picture: NewsWire
If the legislation is passed, warnings on cigarette packages would be updated and extended to individual cigarettes. Picture: NewsWire

The changes would come into effect from next April if the legislation is passed, with industry to be given a year to comply.

“Since the inception of plain packaging, big tobacco has become increasingly creative and cunning with their marketing tactics,” Mr Butler said.

“The Coalition has been on the wrong side of history before on tobacco control. I hope these new reforms are met with bipartisanship.

“The government is determined to support Australians tackling nicotine dependency and this next generation reform will cease any form of enticement.”