Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Tobacco Control

Cameron’s cave-in on plain packaging is a boost to industry

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 10 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3069
  1. Mike Daube, professor of health policy, Curtin University, Western Australia,
  2. Simon Chapman, professor of public health, University of Sydney
  1. M.Daube{at}, Simon.chapman{at}

Australia has shown that governments can act on plain packaging of tobacco products. The UK government would do well to reflect on its responsibility for the deaths and suffering it could have prevented but didn’t

On 29 April 2010 the Australian government announced that it would introduce plain packaging of tobacco products as part of a comprehensive approach to reducing the prevalence of smoking. The final legislation was passed on 21 November 2011 and came into effect on 1 December 2012. The tobacco industry openly acknowledges packaging as its core form of promotion, and all tobacco advertising and promotion have been banned in Australia since 1992. This legislation closed a major remaining promotional door.

The three global tobacco companies that dominate the Australian market opposed plain packaging more fiercely than they did any other measure in the history of tobacco control. They spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising, lobbying, public relations, consultants’ reports, misleading surveys, campaigns aimed at retailers’ organisations, and covert operations. Having for two decades operated like cockroaches that spread disease but avoid sunlight, the three companies publicly re-emerged to defend their last bastion of marketing. British American …

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