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Australia Banning Cigarette Logos, Branding on Packs

SYDNEY, Australia -- Australia said yesterday it would become the world's first country to ban logos and branding on cigarette packets, according to AFP.

According to the report on the proposed legislation, in 2012 cigarettes will be sold in plain, standardized packages carrying large, graphic warnings against smoking. The brand name would be relegated to small print.

The government also sharply raised taxes on cigarettes by 25 percent from midnight yesterday, adding about two dollars (1.85 US) to a packet of 30, with the proceeds to go to healthcare funding.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised to be the most "hardline regime" for cigarette packaging anywhere in the world. "Cigarettes are not cool, cigarettes kill people," said Rudd, who added that Australia also plans new curbs on Internet tobacco advertising and would spend 27.8 million dollars on a "hard-hitting" anti-smoking campaign.

Imperial Tobacco Australia said it planned to challenge the plain packaging on the grounds that it would affect its profits, arguing that branding has commercial value, according to AFP.

"Introducing plain packaging just takes away the ability of a consumer to identify our brand from another brand, and that's of value to us," a spokeswoman told ABC radio.
"It really affects the value of our business as a commercial enterprise and we will fight to support protecting our international property rights."

Australia already bans tobacco advertising and smoking is forbidden in most enclosed public spaces such as offices and restaurants.

AFP also reported that neighboring New Zealand yesterday raised the price of cigarettes by 10 percent, with further 10 percent increases scheduled for the start of 2011 and 2012.
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