As a public health advocate, Mr Kolbe supports proposed legislation mandating that all tobacco products must be sold in plain packaging in Australia by July 2012.
Under the legislation, to be introduced into parliament this month, cigarettes would be sold in drab green packaging with plain font brand names, larger health warnings and with colour pictures of some of the health consequences of smoking.
“Plain packaging makes cigarette packages less attractive and provides for better effectiveness of health warnings,” Mr Kolbe said.
Philip Morris has launched a legal challenge to the proposed laws saying the federal government is breaching a bilateral investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong.
Mr Kolbe is disappointed but not surprised the tobacco giant is attempting to fight the legislation.
“They have a lot to lose and a lot of resources gained through the sales of cigarettes to fight the issue,” he said. “It appears that the government is determined to push ahead with the plain packaging initiative. I don’t think there should be room for compromise and believe it is the right thing to do and is based on sound evidence.”
Mr Kolbe believes these laws are needed despite the current restrictions on the sale and advertising of tobacco products.
“Tobacco companies invest heavily in the design of packaging to make it look as attractive as possible and to make the health warnings blend in. With the changes to tobacco advertising the pack has become a movable advertising item,” he said.
Mr Kolbe said health statistics and research shows the dramatic health effects of tobacco smoking on our population.
“In 2003, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that tobacco smoking was responsible for 7.8 per cent of the total burden of disease in Australia with lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease accounting for about three quarters of that.”
“We all know the story of the person who smoked for years without any apparent problem but the sad reality is that smoking cuts lives short and causes an enormous amount of ill health. Smoking has impacts on families as well as being a huge cost to society.”
|Media Officer||: Emily Malone|
|Telephone||: 02 69332207|
Media Note: Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews.