November 21, 2011 2:14PM
WORLD-first laws requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packets have passed their final parliamentary hurdle.
They will be introduced from December 2012.
Under the new laws, all cigarettes must be sold in drab olive-brown packets with large, graphic health warnings.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the measure removed one of the last remaining forms of tobacco advertising.
She told Parliament it was a crucial step in the Government’s anti-smoking reforms.
The world-first move meant Australia continued to be a global leader on tobacco reforms, the Minister said.
The laws passed the Senate earlier in November but amendments to the implementation time frame meant they had to return to the Lower House for agreement.
The House of Representatives today agreed to the amendments.
The Opposition supported it, after a string of Coalition MPs rose to express concern about the impact on small business and call for a delay in starting fines on retailers.
Ms Roxon said the changed timeline gave manufacturers two months to “flush through” products and change any packaging before the retail deadline.
She said the Government was unlikely to place a moratorium on fines.
Big tobacco company British American Tobacco Australia confirmed earlier in November it would launch a challenge in the High Court as soon as the laws were granted royal assent.
It will argue it is unconstitutional for the Government to remove its trademarks and other intellectual property without compensation.
But Labor has insisted it is on strong legal ground with the laws.
The Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 now goes to the Governor-General for royal assent
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