Finally, 20 years after Cancer Council Australia first recommended plain packaging on the basis of evidence that branded packaging influences smoking take-up, its time has come. From tomorrow, all tobacco retailers in Australia will be required by law to sell only tobacco products in plain packaging.

What a great day for public health.

The government's next step should be for ciggies to come in hideous brown monsters

Some readers will disagree. Not the majority – surveys show most Australians support plain packaging. But having written on this topic before, I expect criticism from sceptics, anti-“nanny state” crusaders and tobacco industry trolls masquerading as both. So let’s pre-empt the arguments against plain packaging with some facts.

1) Plain packaging won’t work.

Why then have tobacco companies thrown tens of millions of dollars at stopping plain packaging, in the small Australian market alone?

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  • Shaun says:

    05:12pm | 30/11/12

    So, following your logic, the only reason the tobacco companies are expressing so much opposition is because the packaging aids brand differentiation.  Nothing about the ability of the existing packaging (one day remaining) having an influence on uptake, and therefore recruiting new amokers so necessary to keep a parasitic industry… Read more »

  • PsychoHyena says:

    03:59pm | 30/11/12

    @kate, that is bs. What about alcohol? Every drink increases your chance of liver and heart disease, interestingly alcohol is the only one between alcohol and tobacco which causes your body to attempt to remove the poison. Sounds to me like alcohol is worse than tobacco. Read more »


Smoking is bad. Big tobacco is evil. These truisms are as entwined as pies and sauce. Therefore, the plain packaging of cigarette packets must be a progressive step, given tobacco companies have spent tens of millions of dollars fighting the idea. Yesterday, the High Court made such legislation binding.

An industry so scary they now make funny movies about it…

Even smokers might gloat at the idea of tobacco companies being flogged in a courtroom. And Australia, once again, gets a gold medal for showing the world how it should be done, which is a step up at least from some of ourl male swimmers.

It was a “victory for all families who had lost someone to a tobacco-related disease” said a Gillard Government press release.  It was “a relief for every parent”. “For anyone who has ever lost someone, this is for you.” Cigarettes, it seemed, have been reinvented.

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  • Pigliotto says:

    03:24pm | 19/08/12

    “I’m getting pretty damn tired of living in the most lawed country in the world.” What on earth does “lawed” mean? Please provide a definition, and, additionally; evidence for your proposition. Read more »

  • UlyssesBlue says:

    05:08pm | 18/08/12

    Those who are calling your idea ridiculous are clearly unaware that other countries (Japan comes to mind) have already adopted the idea of public smoking rooms, and they work spectacularly well. I’d love to see them trialled here. Essentially they consist of a glass-enclosed space fitted with a fan and… Read more »


Today is World No Tobacco Day, observed each year on 31 May to help reduce a global tobacco death toll that will hit 5 million in 2012 and 8 million by 2030. Four in five of these deaths will occur in developing countries where many of those affected will die in agony because they can’t access morphine.

Fresh lungs indeed. Pic: AP

If you are ambivalent about these incomprehensible numbers because you think smoking is a choice, please read on.

Progress on proven measures to encourage people to choose not to smoke has been invariably blocked in ways that would not stymie low-cost steps to improve other areas of global health. Why? Smoking kills, but unlike comparable causes of death such as dysentery or malaria, it also makes billions of dollars for ruthless multinational companies.

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  • Grant says:

    09:52am | 18/06/12

    the heading is quite telling - although I suggest you could put any shiny toy, religion, etc in place of tobacco and inter mingle young, teen, adult and pensioner and still have a valid headline.  Most of our lives today we’re subjected to a large amount of smoke n mirrors… Read more »

  • Cranky old bugger says:

    06:39am | 01/06/12

    has the Govt ever considered making cigarettes a prescription item available through your doctor and NOT subsidised through the PBS. I also remember Army ration packs including 5 cigarettes although they were phased out years ago. Read more »


Two words that I always find amusing when used in the same sentence are “smokers” and “rights”.

Would you like some water with your stick of noxious gas?Photo: Herald Sun

This week’s announcement by the NSW Minister for Health of the ban on smoking in playgrounds, public transport stops, swimming pools, entrances to public buildings and sports grounds has ignited passions and lungs.

One such reader was all fired up in response to a story.

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  • Utopia Boy says:

    07:41pm | 25/02/12

    Smokers need help - they don’t need to be ostracised because of a dirty little habit. Smokers DO need to be considerate. So do non smokers. The harm from second hand cigarrette smoke is negligible if you factor in the abovementioned vehicle pollutants, and the increasingly fewer places people can… Read more »

  • U92 says:

    09:16am | 25/02/12

    To Steve Williams: brilliantly written! So true. Read more »


The Federal Government has recently attacked British American Tobacco for using the image of a Kangaroo on its cigarette packages overseas. Attorney-General Nicola Roxon labelled it as “un-Australian” and demanded that the tobacco companies “get [their] hands off our icon”.

This dose of carcinogenic smoke brought to you by the Commonwealth Government, Canberra. Picture:

The government is indignant and says that the sale of cigarettes has nothing to do with Australia. Unfortunately that is not entirely true.

Almost $150 million of Australian tax dollars are currently invested in tobacco companies like Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco through the Future Fund.

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  • John Brands says:

    02:13pm | 13/06/12

    Get over yourselves! Either way we lose and die, what does it matter if you die from lung cancer at 60 or of old age. You are never going to get rid of anything EVER as there will always be people who will continue to use these substances. As for… Read more »

  • yobogod says:

    07:17am | 29/02/12

    srsly, make the damn things illegal, to argue that an illicit trade of the scale of weed would crop up is just plain silly. Read more »


What is the cigarette plain packaging legislation?
From July 2012 the Australian Government plans to prohibit all brand logos, fonts, colours and promotional wording on cigarette packaging.  Cigarettes will come in olive green boxes displaying prominent safety warnings and the name of the brand and variant printed in standard size, font and position.

Here's lookin' at you, kid. Pic: AP

Why is Labor taking on Big Tobacco?
They are the only target left that is less popular than Julia Gillard. 

Does plain packaging infringe on freedom of choice?
Studies have shown most smokers cannot distinguish between brands in blind trials and the perceived differences are often an artefact of subtle cues in the colour, logos and design on the packaging.  Nevertheless, tobacco companies spend millions of dollars perfecting the positive associations evoked by cigarette packaging and consumers have a right to have their free choices subconsciously influenced by them.

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  • buybagsmall says:

    11:35am | 11/07/12

    Thanks a lot for giving everyone remarkably pleasant chance to read in detail from this site. It’s always very good and packed with a great time for me and my office friends to search your website no less than thrice in a week to find out the newest items you… Read more »

  • Jim says:

    11:41pm | 24/08/11

    Plain packaging for cigarettes to stop people from smoking? That highlights how out of touch with reality the government is. What a bunch of morons. I’m a smoker and I don’t buy the bloody things because how pretty the package looks. I buy them because they are addictive and they… Read more »


In the gruesome final scene of Martin Scorcese’s remake of Cape Fear, the sadistic murderer Max Cady has been bashed with a plank, burned with lighter fluid, thrown off the side of a houseboat and is finally drowning in a river. As he sinks into the water he starts speaking in tongues, struggling to keep his mouth above the waterline as he shouts random free-form gibberish before finally drowning.

I laugh in the face of the nanny state.

I was reminded of this scene while listening to a woman from a cigarette company on the radio this week as she put forward the tobacco industry’s arguments, if you can call them that, against plain packaging.

Despite having a long-standing fondness for the gaspers, and a firm belief that adults should be free to do whatever they like, I don’t ever think I have heard such nonsense in my life. This industry, which in essence is in the death business, is itself in its death throes. As it sinks further into the abyss it is thrashing about spouting nonsense in defence of its right to sell demonstrably deadly products.

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  • Ian1 says:

    10:30am | 06/07/11

    @Facepalm - “alcohol has NEVER “been next” and is still not going to be next.” In your face!  How’s your lack of clairvoyance going? Read more »

  • Domenic Greco says:

    02:36pm | 20/06/11

    Sure reasonably expensive but not to small independent businesses…and all it will do is open the flood gate on black market and allow supermarkets and discounters to grow market share…. Making non smokers pay extra tax because they live longer would be reasonably inexpensive too…how short sighted can you be? Read more »


Plug the word nanny into the website of free market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), and you would be forgiven for thinking that they were an au pair agency. 

The original nanny. Pic: Supplied

No less than 190 opinion pieces, articles, press releases and reports use the word. IPA’s nanny obsession reaches fever pitch in 2011, with IPA spokesmen Tim Wilson and Chris Berg whipping off articles condemning the nanny state quicker than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

And now Big Tobacco has jumped on the nanny state bandwagon with the launch of its plain packaging attack campaign NoNannyState.

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  • jan says:

    04:40pm | 29/06/11

    Tanja, have you been invited to appear on the drum or on john faine’s programme like Tim Wilson et al? I think there is a bit of jealousy at play here as they can’t handle them getting a lot of media attention, they don’t invite just any-one and invest time… Read more »

  • HELEN says:

    03:52pm | 26/06/11

    That is not democracy its called plutocracy and polarising people. EXTREMISM for troglodytes. have a nice day anon and relax peeps Read more »


The tobacco industry’s campaign against plain packaging is at last a cause worthy enough for me to believe in.

Nothing says 'cool' like a rocket launcher, camo gear and a cancer stick. Pic: AP

As a smoker myself it is very important to me that if I am going to be killed slowly it should at least be by someone I know and trust. Indeed, it does not reflect well on the euthanasia lobby that it is strangely silent on this particular aspect of dying with dignity.

Fundamentally this is a debate about choosing the manner of your own death. Some people choose to hurl themselves off the Gap, Ben Elton chooses to do it on live television and smokers choose to do it by gradually annihilating their lungs.

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  • Kipling says:

    08:35am | 07/08/11

    Oh the conundrum…. It seems fairly clear that prohibition is not effective. Firstly, from history we learn (alcohol) prohobition served to make some (a select few) wealthy, despite being criminalised. Provision of alcohol occured without restraint or any form of regulation, including health regulation. Then the Government got wise, they… Read more »

  • Kipling says:

    02:02am | 07/08/11

    People smoking around me is ok. They cover my clothing in smoke smell, I get a runny nose and smelly hair. But that is ok. I don’t mind drinking beer, the outcome of that is that I need to piss more frequently. Consequently, I also don’t mind pissing on a… Read more »


The latest move by the Federal Government to make smoking a habit of the past is the latest salvo in the rapid expansion of the nanny state.

And we can use these as cool hub cabs. Photo: Justin Lloyd.

Recently the Health Minister Nicola Roxon re‑announced the government’s intention to force tobacco companies to adopt plain packaging for all cigarette brands.

From next year, smokers will be greeted with a standard olive‑green packet emblazoned with graphic health warnings screaming that “every cigarette is doing you damage”.

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  • Josh says:

    12:16pm | 15/11/11

    ...Most narrow minded opinion ever, think about the raise in crime because children cant eat because their parents spent 400$ in a week on smokes.. goto another country and spend 4$.. the government is just trying to revenue raise because of all the mismanaged money they have lost in the… Read more »

  • Jeremy says:

    04:02pm | 04/11/11

    Try doing some research before you speak James… It is a fact the revenue raised well and truely pays for all of the hospital costs…. IT IS A MYTH that it doesn’t… It is a means of scarring non-smokers into fighting the cause by deception….  Tails I agree with your… Read more »


Smokers. The unthinkable may become a disagreeable reality. Smoking may be banned in private homes and apartments.

This nanny state is making a monkey out of me! Pic: AP

Scoff if you like about improbability of home smoking bans. How they would not only be unfair but unenforceable. Dismiss the concept as ridiculous.

Huff and puff about civil liberties, individual freedom of choice and the home being the family castle. Thump the table about government interference and intervention. About the spidery intrusion of the nanny state. But ignore the looming reality at your peril. The smokers’ nagging fear, that their final bastion will be invaded by smoke police, is already here.

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  • Bud Wizer says:

    07:46am | 01/08/12

    They have already banned smoking in public places! It’s a bit silly that they still allow smokers to stink out our homes. Just because smokers don’t respect their bodies should not mean that others should have to suffer.  In my opinion smoking is just to look good and a phase… Read more »

  • Parly says:

    09:17am | 29/02/12

    I’m glad smokers and non-smokers alike finally understand that secondhand smoke poses a dangerous health risk to everyone and needs to be banned from multi-family dwellings.  It can’t be contained in the units and costs everyone $$ in health costs and shortened lives.  It’s about time! Read more »


In yet another example of nanny-state politics, South Australia is cracking down on the fags. Cracking down harder, that is. So’s Canberra, and plenty of other places.

Ah, sir? That'll be a $1000 fine. Pic: AFP

Not content with banning them to the point where smokers congregate on city corners like snappily dressed prostitutes (as one punter is rumoured to have observed) now they want to outlaw smoking in all areas of pubs, clubs, cafes, playgrounds, covered taxi stands and bus shelters - and ultimately anywhere outside the home.

Smoking is bad for you - no one doubts that. But the effectiveness of such uber-regulation is being questioned, and freethinkers Australia-wide are wondering - where will it stop? There’s a divergence of opinions on the measure - here, for the record, are our thoughts…

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    At last, I find one particular for myself that make me far more fashion and grow to be the concentration coach purses focus. Given that coach outlet stores is so sizzling currently, coach handbags are frequently imitated. WE had been looking at that which was brand new within the vehicle… Read more »


Every cigarette might be doing you damage but over the past few years it hasn’t been hurting Treasury. Smoking was already a ludicrously expensive pursuit by world standards in this country before the straight-laced uber-nerd Kevin Rudd and his nanny-in-chief Nicola Roxon were elected at the end of 2007.

Oh James, you'd look so much cooler with a taxpayer-funded nicotine patch.

By the beginning of last year, barely two years into Rudd’s brief and clean-living reign as prime minister, the price of a packet of smokes had jumped by more than one-third, with a one-off 25 per cent increase last February adding another $2.16 to a packet of 30 cigarettes.

Smokers fume, splutter and wheeze indignantly about this price-gouging and in my darker moments at the 7-11 as I empty the ATM to fuel my habit, I’ve often found myself among their number. No-one else cares of course. When it comes to public sympathy, smokers are on a hiding to nothing asking for understanding.

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  • neverSayNever says:

    06:37pm | 19/12/10

    Anti smoker says: 11:07am | 13/12/10 “Smoking is a killer no matter what you smoke. It must cost the country billions every year” Check out the tax raised from nicotine tax revenue.  Nicotine tax pays for most of the hospital system. Read more »

  • Damo says:

    11:39pm | 15/12/10

    Why are people so worried about the health of others? People know the health risks with smoking. If they want to smoke, let them. People also know that eating too much junk food is bad for their health. If they want to keep eating it, let them! Stop trying to… Read more »


My dad was a pack a day smoker of Marlboro Reds, he died of cancer in 1996. This is a picture of my three brothers and I carrying him into the funeral service in his coffin.

Welcome to Marlboro Country: Adam's Dad prepares to light up one last time.

If you look carefully you will notice the coffin is painted as a carton of cigarettes, Marlboro Reds to be exact (it was painted on my dad’s request by my talented sister Tania Ferrier).

Dad loved his smokes and didn’t appreciate anyone saying he couldn’t smoke. In fact, just before dad died he asked me to give his eulogy and remind everyone that he wanted to be cremated so he ‘could light up one last time’. He was a relatively conservative chap - but one with a wicked sense of humour, and I guess a fierce sense of brand loyalty.

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  • says:

    02:56pm | 02/03/12

    Well well!! I wonder what would happen if you had an accident in a street and had to be given CPR until the ambulance came!! and yes it could be a smoker that saves your life!!! There are many nurses and carers in this world that are smokers-Take them out… Read more »

  • Tanya says:

    04:31pm | 23/12/11

    Some awesome thoughts to consider and that I haven’t thought of. I’m just a four day quitter today and it’s tougher than hell. But I’m doing it because I don’t want my kid to have to watch me die too young and not have me because I made a stupid… Read more »


Much has been said and written about the wisdom of Kevin Rudd’s glistening mega-slug on the apparent evil that is tobacco.

At least this chimp has the decency to buy its own. Photo: Reuters.

As a parent, it does seem sad that a future generation of child smokers will now be priced out of the market. And while the jury might still be out on the links between smoking and illness, the Government has clearly thrown its lot in with the “it certainly appears to be quite dangerous” crowd.

I have no background in medicine so I will leave this part of the debate to others. But I do know this – I just paid $17.50 for a packet of Marlboro Reds, and no, you can’t have one of them.

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  • Here for a good time not a long time says:

    07:42am | 07/05/10

    Yes thats right!  They do..  And all the while they smoke, they save you and the rest of the country from having to pay billions in extra taxes.  Soon as there are no more smokers left, the government will want this money from some other source.  And believe you me,… Read more »

  • Heléna says:

    08:31pm | 05/05/10

    apparently they vote too :p @DavidO Read more »


Updated 3.35pm: Every State Government will have to agree to a total ban on smoking within 50 years under a policy proposal from Labor’s youth wing ahead of next week’s national ALP conference.

Naughty: Nicole Kidman would be arrested for doing this in 2059

The Punch understands Young Labor will announce the policy within the next few days, and has it listed for debate at its conference this weekend. However the policy will not be presented to the party’s national conference in Sydney next week for debate.

Under the plan, smoking would not only be banned everywhere in Australia, but the sale of cigarettes and cultivation of tobacco would also be declared illegal.

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  • Gordon Green says:

    07:00pm | 19/07/11

    I expect, personally the ban will occur well under the fifty years. This will be interesting time as we continue to legislate against smoking in public. Read more »

  • nev says:

    07:16pm | 09/02/10

    reiligion has killed more people than smoking ever will i dont see that getting banned Read more »


IT has become so hard to be a smoker. At a recent wedding I was the only person nipping outside during the bad songs for a quick gasper, and I’m sure the smell of tobacco was following me around the room. Lately I’ve noticed security guards starting to move us on when lighting up outside certain buildings. The next logical step in this “ban creep” is for councils to outlaw smoking in public spaces such as parks and on footpaths. The only place you could smoke would be inside your own home - which would be the end of smoking for me, as there’s a ban there too.

Anti-smokers now believe a fresh round of punitive tax increases could wean a million Australians off the cancer sticks. The price of some packs would be headed for around $20. This is exasperating. If everybody knows the dangers and costs, as the latest unnecessarily revolting ad campaign says, why is this state-sponsored suicide still legal at all? Why don’t we just outlaw cigarettes?

Cost of tobacco v consumption. The red line is mine

This graph, in its unedited form, shows the relationship between consumption of tobacco and the price of a pack. It demonstrates that price rises work, but I’ve added in what I believe to be an additional force on consumption - the dramatic fall in the social acceptability of smoking that began in the 80s and has more recently fallen like a ciggie butt to the footpath.

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  • Daniel says:

    10:17am | 27/08/12

    Raising the price i believe will prevent alot of kids taking up the habbit but what about everyone else, yes some will quit due to high cost but most no will not. Most will neglect other obligations such their phone bills etc and keep the money for smokes or worse… Read more »

  • j says:

    09:34am | 07/08/12

    It is impossible to avoid smokers in public. As an asthmatic (like millions of others) second hand smoke makes my life unnecessarily difficult and even physically painful. Even at home it can be difficult; my neighbors smoke and it comes into MY apartment, even with my windows closed (and don’t… Read more »


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