National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018: Draft for consultation

6.5 Eliminating remaining advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products

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There is overwhelming evidence documenting the influence of advertising and promotion by the tobacco industry.

Tobacco advertising and marketing efforts by the tobacco industry seek to increase sale and consumption of tobacco by three mechanisms. Firstly, by advertising and promotion efforts which seek to recruit new smokers by encouraging children or young adults to experiment with tobacco products and progress to regular use. Secondly, by reducing motivation of current smokers to quit. And thirdly, by encouraging relapse and prompting former smokers to resume smoking.35

The US Surgeon General’s Report “Reducing Tobacco Use” noted in 2000 that tobacco companies purposefully marketed to children for many years and that one tobacco company in the US, had admitted that the entire tobacco industry conspired to market cigarettes to children.52 Recently, the US National Cancer Institute concluded there is a causal relationship between the promotion of tobacco and increased tobacco use.35

The FCTC places a priority on eliminating tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and has released comprehensive Guidelines for Article 13 of the Treaty.53 Article 13 requires Parties to implement a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship by February 27, 2010. The Article 13 guidelines acknowledge the importance of comprehensive bans, as anything less will allow the tobacco industry to continue to exploit loopholes.53

Through the Commonwealth Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 and state and territory tobacco control legislation, Australia has successfully prohibited the vast majority of tobacco advertising and promotion.

However, several issues are still to be addressed to eliminate the remaining advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products in Australia.

Since 1 January 2012, when South Australia’s new tobacco regulations came into effect, all jurisdictions in Australia have prohibited the display of tobacco in retail outlets. However a number of jurisdictions still have exemptions for specialist tobacco retailers or tobacconists to continue to display tobacco and smoking implements.

Article 11 of the FCTC requires Parties to adopt and implement measures to ensure that tobacco products are not promoted in ways that are false, misleading, or deceptive; to require rotating health warning messages on tobacco packaging and require tobacco packaging to contain information on relevant constituents and emissions of tobacco products.26

Through branding and package design, tobacco companies are able to promote their products in countries like Australia where most advertising and promotion is banned, by creating preferences, differentiation and identification.54,55

Research indicates that plain packaging policies that remove most brand design elements can be successful in removing cigarette brand image associations.55 On 1 December 2011, Australia became the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging legislation when the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Act 2011 received Royal Assent. The Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 have since been promulgated, prescribing additional, more specific, requirements for the appearance of tobacco products and the retail packaging of tobacco products.

Under the new plain packaging laws, tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text will be banned, with the packaging background in a standard drab dark brown colour chosen through research to have the least appeal to smokers. Tobacco companies will have a year to transition to plain packaging with Regulations setting out the specific requirements for the retail packaging and appearance of cigarettes which must be fully implemented by 1 December 2012.

Specifications for plain packaging of non cigarette tobacco products will be incorporated into the Regulations in early 2012.

Larger and updated graphic health warnings will also be required on tobacco products. The proposed new warnings will cover 75 per cent of the front of cigarette packets rather than the current 30 per cent and will continue to cover 90 per cent of the back of the packet. A commensurate change is occurring with warnings on non cigarette tobacco products.

Graphic health warnings provide a strong and confronting message to smokers about the harmful health consequences of tobacco products and convey the ‘quit’ message every time a person reaches for a cigarette.56 An evaluation of the 2006 graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging showed that the warnings have increased consumer knowledge of the health effects relating to smoking, have encouraged the cessation of smoking and discouraged smoking uptake or relapse. The evaluation also highlighted the importance of regularly updating the images and messages to maintain smokers’ attention.56

A Bill to restrict tobacco advertising on the internet (the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Bill 2010) passed the House of Representatives on 22 March 2011 and is expected to be further considered by the Senate in 2012.

In some jurisdictions, tobacco products continue to be included in retailer shopper loyalty or reward programs. These programs reward customers for smoking, as higher rewards go to those who purchase the most tobacco.57, 58

Promotion of smoking in movies also remains an important means of glamourising smoking and promoting smoking to mass audiences. The National Preventative Health Taskforce recommended that smoking should be made a ‘classifiable element’ in movies and video games to be taken into account by the Classification Board. ANPHA will continue to monitor the issue and liaise with relevant agencies regarding the adequacy of classification guidelines.