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Australia's plain packaging plan could lead to more smokers: U.S. business group

 

A U.S. business group, Emergency Committee for American Trade, on Wednesday warned Australia's move to introduce plain cigarette packaging violates a range of free trade measures and could actually lead to more people smoking.


Emergency Committee for American Trade represents top U.S. companies aiming to promote economic growth through international trade and investment.


President of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, Calman Cohen said his organisation firmly supported anything to reduce the rate of smoking, especially among young people.


But he said Australia's plain cigarette plan failed on two counts: it violated commitments Australia had given trading partners to protect international property, and there was no scientific basis the use of plain packaging would reduce the incidence of smoking.


Cohen said most experts believed plain packaging would reduce the price, allowing more people to buy tobacco products.


It also would cause an increase in counterfeit products leading to a higher incidence of smoking.


"Once you don't have the ability to distinguish one product from another ... you will have contraband and more counterfeit product in your market," he told ABC Television on Wednesday.


Cohen said tobacco products were the most widely counterfeited goods in the world.


"That's one of the reasons why many governments have second thoughts about the use of plain packaging," he said.


"It's very easy to copy a package that doesn't have the distinguishing trademarks that set one product apart from another. "


However, Health Minister Nicola Roxon on Wednesday said the government was very confident the plan was on solid ground.


If the cigarettes law is enforced, Australia will become the first country in the world to ban logos and brand names from cigarette packaging. Health warnings and the kind of graphic pictures will make up the majority of the packaging, while the rest of the packets will be plain olive green.

(c) 2011 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

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