Tax hike and plain packagaing rules to go ahead

Australia's government announced Thursday a 25-per-cent exicse tax increase on tobacco products and said it plans to introduce a law on plain plackaging by 2012.

The new law would make it illegal for cigarette packets to print brand colors or logos on cigarette packets, which would still carry health warnings.
Prime minister Kevin Rudd wants the legislation to be in place by 1 January 2012, with the ban to take effect by 1 July of that year. According to the Wall Street Journal, this extended time frame suggests a confidence that his government will win the next federal election due by April 2011 at the latest, but which also acknowledges the possibility of a protracted court battle with tobacco manufacturers.
The move, which is being billed as a world-first, comes after recommendations were made by the World Health Organisation.
The Australian government also said it will hike the excise on cigarettes by 25 per cent from midnight Thursday, raising AUD 5 billion (EUR 3.5 billion) over the next four years to be used to fund public hospitals. The measure will increase the price of a pack of 30 cigarettes by around AUD 2.16, up from the current prices between AUD 12 to AUD 15. (pi)

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