Individual Cigarettes to Feature Warning Labels in ‘World First’ Tobacco Law

Smokers will see messages like ’toxic addiction,‘ and ’causes 16 cancers’ printed on cigarette sticks.
Individual Cigarettes to Feature Warning Labels in ‘World First’ Tobacco Law
A woman is seen smoking a cigarette in central London on June 9, 2022. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)
Monica O’Shea

Australia’s parliament has passed legislation designed to make the nation a “world leader in tobacco control.”

The Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) Bill 2023 passed both houses of parliament on Dec. 7 2023.
New graphic health warnings will be placed on the front of cigarette packages under the law, following market testing. The precise images will be consulted on in the next few weeks before a final decision is made.

Dissuasive messages will also be put on individual cigarette sticks with messages such as “toxic addiction,” “causes 16 cancers,” and “shortens your life.”

These messages are in the process of testing but the government said Australia will be one of the “first countries in the world” to include this public health measure.

The federal Labor government said it now had the legislation in place to “underpin our renewed fight against tobacco” and prevent the next generation from the “devastating impacts of smoking.”

The government worked with tobacco control and public health authorities on the legislation to discourage the practice.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the new laws would save lives and will help the government keep pace with the marketing strategies of Big Tobacco.

“Today marks a new era as Australia returns to the forefront of the global fight against smoking. Tobacco has caused immeasurable harm and cost us countless lives. We cannot stand by and allow another generation of people to be lured into addiction and suffer the enormous health, economic, and social consequences,” he said in a statement.

“Together with the strong measures we’re taking against vaping, these reforms will help us keep pace with the cynical marketing strategies of Big Tobacco. The laws passed today will save lives.”

The new legislation, which includes the health promotion mandates, will start on April 1, 2024.

The government will provide a 12-month transition period between April 2024 and March 2025 to give the industry time to comply.

The regulation follows the government’s vaping reforms that ban the importation of disposable single-use vapes.

Minister’s Thoughts on Smoking Ban for Young Generations

Minister Butler was asked if he would consider a smoking ban for a generation—such a law was passed in New Zealand but will now be repealed by the new National government.

“I’ve said in relation to that—when it was first proposed by our neighbours across the ‘ditch’—that that was not something that was particularly pressed upon me as I went out and consulted with roundtables about what the next wave of tobacco control legislation should be here in Australia,” he told reporters.

Mr. Butler said the laws in Australia picked from the best tobacco control practices globally.

“The UK has done some things, Canada has been very active in this area, New Zealand and others, as well,” he said.

“We will monitor particularly comparable countries about some of the new ideas they have to drive smoking rates down but right now, we’re not inclined to do that.”

Monica O’Shea is a reporter based in Australia. She previously worked as a reporter for Motley Fool Australia, Daily Mail Australia, and Fairfax Regional Media.
Related Topics