16 Aug 2012

Turia welcomes Australian ruling on tobacco

8:52 am on 16 August 2012

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says an Australian court ruling which has cleared the way for plain cigarette packaging makes her feel very confident of a successful law change in New Zealand.

The High Court in Australia on Wednesday dismissed a legal challenge by tobacco companies which claimed the tough new rules diminished their intellectual property rights.

From December this year, all cigarettes sold will now have to have tobacco company logos and branding removed.

Instead, they will be sold in olive green-coloured boxes and the only images allowed will be graphic photos of people suffering the effects of smoking-related diseases.

Tariana Turia says it is not only a win for the Australian government - but also for the people of Australia.

"All those families who have had people die and for their children who continue to live with that issue, I'm really thrilled for them - because also what it does is it shows that the laws of our country should not be interfered with by others."

The New Zealand Government has agreed in principle to introduce plain packaging for tobacco, depending on the outcome of a consultation process.

Mrs Turia told Morning Report she thinks New Zealand has a good case. "We have 13 people die a day. I think it is an issue very well worth fighting for."

She says the fact international trade agreements state public health has to be upheld will add to New Zealand's case.