Tanya Plibersek… unimpressed
Photo © 2012 AAP One / Lukas Coch
The federal government and Australian Greens have attacked an attempt by tobacco companies to flout plain packaging laws.
Imperial Tobacco is using packaging to directly challenge government health warnings, telling its Peter Stuyvesant brand customers that "it's what's on the inside that counts".
The new packets for Peter Stuyvesant show a mock plain olive packet being ripped off to reveal the old-style Peter Stuyvesant beneath. The company described it as a way of informing the public about the forthcoming changes, which come into effect on October 1.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek described the move as "the ultimate sick joke", saying the government had referred the packaging to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
"What's really on the inside of a smoker are diseased lungs, hearts and arteries," she said.
"Smoking-related diseases kill 15,000 Australians a year and the government is determined to reduce the pain and suffering caused by this deadly product."
Greens senator Richard Di Natale was scathing of the move.
"I will tell you what is inside Big Tobacco - a bunch of greedy, morally bankrupt, deceptive executives, who are doing what they can to maintain a dying industry," he told reporters in Canberra.
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