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Australia's plain packaging legislation was passed in the lower house of the Australian Parliament on 21 November 2011, and was signed into law a few weeks later on 1 December 2011.1 The legislation requires that all tobacco sold at retail in Australia after 1 December 2012 be packaged in drab, dark brown packs, with standardised lettering for the brand name (in Pantone Cool Gray, 2C Lucida Sans regular font, size 14, with no capital letters apart from the first in each word) and any variant name in font size 10. Further, packs sold are also required to feature graphic health warnings covering 75% of the front of pack and 90% of the back.2
As part of our routine surveillance activities, we monitor offerings of factory-made cigarettes of all three major manufacturing companies in Australia—British American Tobacco Australia (BATA), Philip Morris (PM), and Imperial Tobacco Australia (ITA). We examine available trade magazines and undertake monthly checks of products available on-line and in-store. Periodically, we also receive promotional flyers that have been distributed by the manufacturing companies to retailers. From these sources we report five major trends in the factory-made cigarette market in Australia that we discerned in the 12 months leading up to, and following, the implementation of plain packaging: (1) reassurance of product quality to smokers; (2) shift of promotional attention to brand and variant names; (3) renewed emphasis on value for money; (4) introduction of novel products and (5) rationalisation of product offerings. Examples of each of these trends are described below using complementary photographic material.
Trend 1. Reassurance of smokers about product quality
Throughout the lead-in period, manufacturers communicated to consumers via the branded packaging of their cigarettes. All three major manufacturers used messages on the pack face of at least one of their top selling brands.
Trend 1.1. Written guarantees of continuing quality
Figure 1 demonstrates a reassurance message from BATA to …
Contributors MS conceived of this paper, MB coordinated tobacco product reference materials and JO assisted. JO and MS drafted the manuscript and all authors contributed with revisions and approved the final version of the paper.
Funding This study was supported by Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Australia, Cancer Council South Australia, Cancer Council Victoria and Action on Smoking and Health (UK) and its partner organisations Cancer Research UK, Smokefree Southwest, Fresh and Tobacco Free Futures.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.