New Zealand to act on tobacco packaging

An example of what cigarette packets in Australia may look like New Zealand said packaging would carry graphic health warnings, as in Australia

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New Zealand says it will put all tobacco products into plain packaging, following the landmark move by Australia last year.

A review had shown it would help reduce the appeal of smoking and better publicise health risks, Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia said.

The government acknowledged possible challenges from tobacco companies.

It will introduce laws later this year but wait for the outcome of legal cases in Australia before enforcing them.

As in Australia, packaging would carry large, graphic health warnings and be stripped of branding.

"Currently the packaging does everything it can to attract consumers and increase the perceived appeal and acceptability of smoking," Ms Turia said in a statement.

A move to plain packaging would make the health risks related to smoking more explicit, she said.

The government would need to manage legal risks, she added.

Last year Australia's highest court shot down a legal challenge from tobacco companies, who argued that the move would cut profits and encourage counterfeit products.

But several tobacco-producing countries have taken their complaint to the World Trade Organisation.

New Zealand will "wait and see what happens with Australia's legal cases, making it a possibility that if necessary, enactment of New Zealand legislation and/or regulations could be delayed pending those outcomes", the government statement said.

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