Old packaging up in smoke
Standardised packaging on tobacco will hopefully help normalise the concept of smokefree, experts say.
The 2013 Census results showed that there were 19.2 per cent of adults in Southland smoking daily, which was higher than the New Zealand rate of 15.1 per cent and much higher than the Otago rate of 14 per cent.
The Southern District Heath Board smokefree team welcomed the regulation of standardised packaging of tobacco products, which came into force nationwide yesterday.
SDHB health promotion advisor Joanne Lee said it was something her team had been working towards for several years.
‘‘We’re excited to see this happening at last and pleased that cigarettes will now be packaged to depict the exact product they are.’’
According to 2006 Census data, the prevalence of regular smoking amongst the Southland population was considerably higher in Ma¯ori (42 per cent) compared to European populations (23 per cent). The data showed 57.3 per cent of Ma¯ori children lived in households with smokers, compared to 33.2 per cent of European children in Southland.
Lee said the standardisation of tobacco packaging was a major step towards normalising smokefree.
‘‘Up until now, tobacco companies have used brand imagery to appeal to current smokers and influence potential new smokers.’’
Retailers will have a six week grace period where old stock can be distributed, then a further six weeks for old stock to be sold.
However, from June 6 tobacco products can only be sold in standardised packs nationwide.
All tobacco packaging will be plain brown and green-coloured and will include a number of graphic images showing the health consequences of smoking. Brand and product names will be permitted but these must be in a standard colour, position, font size and style.
‘‘The packages become less appealing when they are all the same unattractive browny-green colour and have health warnings with graphic images that cover the majority of the pack,’’ Lee said.
Last year, the Invercargill City Council also got on board - adopting a smokefree policy for the central business district. It is not a bylaw ban enforced by penalties, but a policy to be expressed in terms of signage.
Southern District Health Board health promotion advisor Joanne Lee and Smokefree co-ordinator Debby Newton.