Tobacco Companies Cry Foul Over Graphic Aussie Warning Labels

Would you buy a pack of cigarettes that didn’t have a slick, glossy color-coordinated logo on it, but only had a gigantic closeup photograph of mouth cancer?

The Australian government is betting you won’t, which is why they will introduce legislation in July that will completely eradicate brand logos from cigarette packaging. Instead, packs of smokes will be covered with large warning labels and huge, graphic photos of the side effects of smoking. Cancer. Eye disease. Sick children. The only indication of what kind of cigarette the package contains will be displayed in a small, text-only label in a uniform font. They are hoping this will deter people from buying the cigarettes in the first place, thus cutting down consumption and all related side effects of smoking on society.

The tobacco companies are, as you would expect, howling with rage — especially since, if this works, other countries are expected to follow suit.  On Monday, Philip Morris filed a notice of claim with the Government of Australia, marking their intent to fight this with all of their (significant) financial resources.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Philip Morris claims that removal of its logo will devalue its international property. Because the Australian arm of the tobacco manufacturer is owned by Philip Morris Asia, they will also claim in court that this law will breach a trade agreement between Australia and Hong Kong. The filing of the suit has triggered a three month negotiation period, then Philip Morris will take it to international arbitration.

The Australian government is refusing to back down. Nicola Roxon, the Australian Health minister, stated bluntly that the government will put the “health interests of the public before the interests — or profits — of tobacco companies.”

Smoking has a significant impact in Australia, with 18% of males and 15% of females classifying themselves as daily smokers in 2007.  In 2003, there were over 15,000 smoking-related deaths in the country, with the social costs of smoking adding up to $31.5 billion in 2004-5.

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Photo credit: Superfantastic on Flickr.


Kaitlyn K.
Kaitlyn K6 years ago

I hope nothing stops these labels from taking place of the ones that exist now. I really think it may be the only way to convince many people of how bad the habit is for them. I also hope that realizing that a legal thing is so bad for them, will make them hesitate all the more to try harmful illegal substances.

Val Anderson
Valerie A6 years ago

I'm waiting for the day when cigarettes are outlawed everywhere, but I know it'll never happen, at least not in my lifetime. Cigarettes killed my dad, they killed my father-in-law, they're in the process of killing my brother, and they tried to kill me but I was finally able to put them down about a dozen years ago. I hope those graphic photos will help, but time will tell. If they get even one kid to quit or never start, it will be worth the try.

Adam G.
Adam G6 years ago

the "graphic pictures" have been on the smoke packs for years now & haven't made a single bit of difference. neither will "plain packaging".

dave c: there is no genuine proof that passive smoking/2nd hand smoke causes health problems. the main source of this fallacy is a study done by the US EPA, which they later admitted in US federal courts, was a complete lie, paid for by anti-smoking lobby groups.

Tracy S.
Tracy S6 years ago

We already have the graphic images on cigarette packets here in Australia and have had for some years now. Packs are also already $15 to $20 each on average too.
The only change they are making now is what the government is calling "Plain Packaging". They are banning all branding and logos on the packaging and making them all a standard olive green colour. The images will remain as they have been, which are currently on both the front and back of the packet. They are hoping that without 'glamourous' colours, logos and branding that it will reduce the desire for young people to start smoking and the effect for certain packets or brands to be seen as 'cool'.... Will it work? Who knows, only time will tell.

Tammy D.
Tammy D6 years ago

if the government really wanted to create change, it would disallow the sale of prepared cigarettes. Only loose tobacco would be made for sale. Synthetic filters that litter the ground and *never* biodegrade would be disallowed as well. Cellulose filters should be made standard.

Increasing the price always helps (and putting those taxes into free cessation efforts), but making people really work for each cigarette would probably have an even greater effect.

Dave C.
David C6 years ago

"Foul on the tobacco companies for knowlingly selling poison!" (not to mention the fact it causes health damage not just to the user but to those surrounding the user, stinks, and leads to the #1 type of trash found in the environment)

Bernadette P.
berny p6 years ago

All countries should ban tobacco products.

It is harmful to the users and to the people around them.

Kids grow up in homes where one or both parents smoke and suffer the effects of it all their lives.

Never mind what they cost the health care .....

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

There are pictures on packs in the UK but I know that people still smoke.Maybe bigger pictures will make a difference but it is an addiction like any other.I once read,do not know how true it is, that nicotine is more addicrive than heroin.People who are addicted to heroin get help,why not smokers?
Ah yes,the taxes the government receives from tobacco products.No tax on heroin.

Nimue Pendragon

If the pics save lives then they must be a good thing.

Patricia Y.
Patricia Y6 years ago

If I want to smoke, I will no matter what is on the package.
I think the only thing that would make me think of quitting is if the price was exorbitant.