Australia Says ‘Big Tobacco’ Will Try to Skirt Plain-Pack Law

Australia’s government said it expects cigarette makers to try to skirt a branding ban due to start Dec. 1, after Imperial Tobacco Group Plc. (IMT) released new packs with the slogan “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

“We know that Big Tobacco will use every trick in the book to try and get around the new requirements,” Tanya Plibersek, health minister, said in an e-mailed statement. The ministry will foil such efforts by monitoring packaging elements including gloss and tone while poring over marks, she said.

Under the rules, cigarette packages won’t be allowed to show company logos and will have to use a uniform font on an olive-brown background, with graphic health warnings covering most of the packets. Major retailers will receive the first deliveries of new plain packages this week, she said, with the manufacture of old-style packs banned from Oct. 1 and stores barred from selling them after Dec. 1.

Imperial Tobacco’s changes to its Peter Stuyvesant brand packaging was intended to “provide factual information about upcoming legislative changes,” Michelle Park, a Sydney-based spokeswoman for the company, said by e-mail. “It is also important to inform our adult consumers that the product itself will remain unchanged.”

The Imperial Tobacco packaging was a “sick joke,” Plibersek said. “Diseased lungs, hearts and arteries are the reality of what is happening on the inside to a smoker.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anjali Cordeiro at acordeiro2@bloomberg.net

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