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Australia / health : ban on tobacco advertising but not total smoking ban

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Australia plans the world’s toughest laws on  tobacco promotion but Health Minister Nicola Roxon denied Sunday the  government’s ultimate goal was a complete ban on smoking.    Under proposed legislation, due to take effect next year, all logos will be  removed from cigarette packets, which must be a drab olive-green colour and be  plastered with graphic health warnings.

The big tobacco companies have vowed to fight the move in the courts.

Anti-smoking advocates were quoted in the media Sunday as saying a smoking  ban could be a reality within 10 to 15 years, but Roxon said that was not part  of her agenda.    “No, I don’t think it is,” she told the Ten Network’s “Meet the Press”  programme when asked if a complete ban was where she was ultimately heading.

“I think what is logical about it is if tobacco were a brand new product  today, seeking to come on to the market, and we knew about tobacco what we  know now, it would not be a legal product.

“But the truth is that it has been a legal product for many, many  years.

“We’re trying to make sure that we tackle the last remaining  method that tobacco companies use to market their products.     “We know it is successful in marketing their products, because we know that  they are determined to stop it and they are very fearful about what it will do  to their business.

“We know it affects their profits. It means it is good to reduce the number  of smokers. That is the public health aim we have.”

Mike Daube, president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, told  the Melbourne Age newspaper public support for banning tobacco was growing.

“The way smoking trends are going, it’s not unrealistic to think that we  should see an end to the commercial sale of cigarettes within 10 to 15 years,”  he said.

Around 15,000 Australians die of smoking-related diseases every year, with  tobacco use costing the country Aus$31.5 billion ($32.9 billion) annually in  healthcare and lost productivity.

Smoking in prohibited in virtually all enclosed public places in Australia,  such as pubs, restaurants and workplaces.

Sydney, May 22, 2011 (AFP)