Australia has the backing of the High Court after the decision to uphold plain packaging laws was passed yesterday to introduce the world’s toughest tobacco packaging laws on 1 December 2012.
All cigarettes sold after 1 December in Australia will come in a dull, olive-brown pack featuring the standard graphic health warnings. Brand names have to be small with generic type.
According to Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, the introduction of these laws should help reduce the smoking rate in Australia from 15 per cent to 10 per cent.
While this victory is being celebrated by some, others such as Mark Fitzgibbon, chief executive of health insurer NIB and Edmund Bateman, founder and managing director of Primary Health Care believe a total ban on cigarettes in Australia is the next logical step as they are currently the only licensed product available on the market which is designed to kill the user.
Is plain packaging the first step to banning cigarettes in Australia?
Read more from The Age
With the plain packaging laws being introduced at the start of December, it is only a matter of time before the next step in the cigarette saga begins with strong public support for the banning of cigarettes and smoking altogether.
According to The Age’s website poll, which at the time of publishing this article has 6183 replies, 57 per cent of voters believe that smoking should be banned. If only the issue of smoking was as simple as clicking a button.
Smoking has never held any allure for me as I grew up with a mother who smoked around a packet a day and I eventually started to hate the smell. My opinion of smoking was certainly not improved recently, with my mother suffering a minor heart attack with her smoking habit partly to blame.
Even with such negative associations, I will always firmly vote NO to banning cigarettes and smoking in Australia. The simple fact is that we are all responsible for our choices in life and can quit at any time with a little bit of help. There are many people who smoke simply for enjoyment and it is their right to continue smoking, even if it kills them. The current plain packaging laws are a step in the right direction and continued education on the dangers of smoking will decrease the uptake of smoking by younger generations.
The main problem with banning any product from sale is that an underground black market will always emerge. Banning substances such as Marijuana has had very little effect on the use of these products and if anything, has made them ‘cooler’ for the younger generation to try.
What do you think? Should we continue on the path of plain packaging, education and restrictions? Do we need to go further and ban the sale of cigarettes and smoking altogether? Or are the most recent changes simply not justified?