Tobacco companies responsible for non-compliant stock: Roxon

A packet of cigarettes showing the new plain package and health warnings.
A packet of cigarettes showing the new plain package and health warnings. Kevin Farmer

HEALTH Minister Tanya Plibersek has promised to "throw the book" at any tobacco companies intentionally breaching the new plain packaging rules, which come into effect on Saturday.

The new laws mean every packet of cigarettes of other tobacco product sold in Australia will be packaged in an unattractive brown wrapping, covered in government health warnings.

But Ms Plibersek said it was likely some old packets may still be sold mistakenly at small retailers, and tobacco companies would be forced to pull such product off the shelves.

Tobacco company Philip Morris has refused to take back non-compliant stock, sparking Ms Plibersek to threaten the company that she would throw the book at it if it did not comply.

"We've had some difficulties with companies like Philip Morris who have refused to take back non-compliant stock," she said.

"We've, of course, written to Philip Morris and insisted that they should take back non-compliant stock because we don't want small shopkeepers, mum and dad shopkeepers, to be the ones who suffer here.

"We believe that the tobacco companies are responsible for taking back non-compliant stock and they should do that."

Under the new laws, the big tobacco companies could be up for fines worth more than $1 million - a fine which Ms Plibersek said the government was willing to exercise if the companies did not comply.

She said the High Court case the companies lost in their bid to battle the plain packaging laws was the "last gasp of a dying industry", and the psychological effects the packets had on some smokers meant they did not taste the same to some people.

Topics:  cigarettes nicola roxon plain packaging

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