Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Heavyweights fight plain-pack smokes

The Government hopes plain packs will discourage smoking by cutting off the tobacco industry's last avenue of marketing. Photo / Thinkstock
The Government hopes plain packs will discourage smoking by cutting off the tobacco industry's last avenue of marketing. Photo / Thinkstock

Global heavyweight corporates and business interests have pleaded with the New Zealand Government not to adopt plain packaging for cigarettes.

Companies and lobbyists from the United States, Asia, and Europe were among the 20,000 submitters who responded to the proposal to introduce unbranded, standardised cigarette packets with large health warnings.

The Government hopes plain packs will discourage smoking by cutting off the tobacco industry's last avenue of marketing.

The US Chamber of Commerce, which has three million members, said there was little evidence to indicate plain packaging would cut smoking rates.

Vice-president Myron Brilliant warned that forcing companies to change their branding would trample on intellectual property rights.

"The impact on the economy of New Zealand could also be significant if it is viewed as weak on intellectual property protection through the improper expropriation of registered marks," he wrote.

Submitters said New Zealand could expect similar legal challenges to those faced by the Australian Government, which introduced a plain packaging regime in December.

Australia successfully defended itself against a claim that plain packaging was unconstitutional. But it faced further legal challenges on the grounds that it had breached a free-trade agreement with Hong Kong and impinged on IP rights.

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