30.11.2015 – 09:01
Australian Government Struggles to Hide Failure of Tobacco Branding Ban
Delayed Report Prompts Concern Over Compliance
On the third anniversary of Australia's controversial 'plain' packaging legislation for tobacco products, the Government is still refusing to admit its failure. This would explain why the Department of Health (DoH) is pushing back the publication of its Post-Implementation Review (PIR).
Since the introduction of the branding ban in December 2012, the Government's own data has shown no change to the pre-existing decline in smoking rates. Minutes of a Senate debate held in October highlight the uneasiness surrounding the PIR and the difficulty that the DoH is having in producing a report which complies with government guidelines. It illustrates fears that the review may be sub-standard by not measuring the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act against its original objectives.
"Anti-tobacco lobbyists have misrepresented the data to hide the fact that the ban on brands has failed", says Michiel Reerink, JTI's Regulatory Strategy Vice President. "Australia - the only country where the measure has been introduced - cannot be held up as a model for other countries to follow", he adds.
Official guidelines state that PIRs on major policies such as the plain packaging law should be conducted within two years of the policy being introduced, and completed within six months. They require PIRs to measure the success of the policy against the original objectives of the legislation.
"The DoH is desperate to prove the success of this policy but all of the evidence - their own evidence - points to failure. The government should own up to this failure, and the PIR is an opportunity to do that. If this review is not completed and published soon, and if it is not compliant with the Government's own standards, other countries will be misled", concludes Mr. Reerink.
Notes to editors
- The Australian Government's Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) states that "Australian Government agencies must undertake a post-implementation review (PIR) for all regulatory changes that have major impacts on the economy. PIRs must also be prepared when regulation has been introduced, removed, or significantly changed without a regulation impact statement (RIS)… A PIR's conclusion should provide an assessment, based on the available evidence, of whether the regulation remains appropriate and of how effective and efficient it has been in meeting its original objectives." - "The PIR should commence within one to two years of the regulations being implemented." - "As a guide, agencies should not need more than three months to complete a PIR. If the regulation is particularly large in scope or impacts, then six months may be more adequate." 
- The original objectives of Australia's Tobacco Plain Packaging Act are the following: - discouraging people from taking up smoking, or using tobacco products; - encouraging people to give up smoking, and to stop using tobacco products; - discouraging people who have given up smoking, or who have stopped using tobacco products, from relapsing; and - reducing people's exposure to smoke from tobacco products
JTI, a member of the Japan Tobacco Group of Companies, is a leading international tobacco manufacturer. It markets world-renowned brands such as Winston, Camel, Mevius and LD. Other global brands include Benson & Hedges, Silk Cut, Sobranie and Glamour. With headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and about 26,000 employees worldwide, JTI has operations in more than 120 countries. Its core revenue in the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014, was USD 11.9 billion. For more information, visit http://www.jti.com.
1. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013: tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.
2. Proof Committee Hansard (Senate), Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, Estimates, Monday, October 19, 2015, Canberra, p. 93-95
3. Guidance note, Australian Government, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Office of Best Practice Regulations, July 2014, p.1.
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Original content of: JTI Japan Tobacco International AG, transmitted by news aktuell