Big tobacco using FOI to stall reforms

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has accused tobacco companies of using Freedom of Information (FOI) laws to delay anti-smoking reforms.

British American Tobacco and Philip Morris have taken out a request for tens of thousands of documents relating to the Government’s plan to introduce plain packaging laws.

If implemented, colours, brands, logos and promotional text on cigarette packets will all be banned and the packet will be covered by a graphic health warning.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says tobacco companies are using FOI laws to stall anti-smoking reforms.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says tobacco companies are using FOI laws to stall anti-smoking reforms.

The department initially quoted more than $2 million to process the FOI request, but under the laws the tobacco companies will not have to pay the full cost of processing.

Ms Roxon says it is clear what the tobacco companies are trying to do.

“The FOI applications are just another step in a long process that the tobacco [industry] has had a history of doing,” she said.

“[They] will no doubt continue to try to tie up government resources and other resources in the hope of slowing down or putting off or reducing our determination to this cause.”

British American Tobacco Australia has a 45 per cent stake in Australia’s cigarette market and has vowed to fight the Government on the reforms.

Company spokesman Mark Connell says the stand-off will end up in court.

He says plain packaging will diminish their ability to compete against other brands.

Smoking rates stand at 17 per cent, but public health experts believe plain packaging will make cigarettes less appealing to young people.

source: www.abc.net.au

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