Generic Takes On New Meaning in Australia

In an unusual twist on packaging and branding news the Australian government today announced a comprehensive attack on smoking and its harmful effects, including an increase in the tobacco tax of 25%. The move includes a shift to “plain white label” generic packaging that is reminiscent of the historic past of Private Brand. But instead of the cheap, price driven aesthetic of the generic past this move by the Australian government eliminates the last frontier of tobacco advertising package design

The anti-smoking legislation includes:

  • The first increase in tobacco excise (above inflation) in more than a decade, an increase of 25 per cent.
  • Cracking down on one of the last frontiers for tobacco advertising – in a world first, cigarettes will have to be sold in plain packaging.
  • Restricting Australian internet advertising of tobacco products.
  • Injecting an extra $27.8 million into hard-hitting anti-smoking campaigns.

In a world first, all cigarettes will be sold in plain packaging by 1 July 2012.

This will remove one of the last remaining frontiers for cigarette advertising, and was a key recommendation of the National Preventative Health Taskforce.

The legislation will restrict or prohibit:

  • tobacco industry logos
  • brand imagery
  • colors
  • promotional text other than brand and product names in a standard colour, position, font style and size.

The Government will develop and test package design that will make cigarettes less appealing, particularly to young people.

Graphic health warnings will be updated and expanded. Research shows that industry branding and packaging design reduce the effectiveness of graphic health warnings on tobacco products.

The National Preventative Health Taskforce concluded that “there can be no justification for allowing any form of promotion for this uniquely dangerous and addictive product which it is illegal to sell to children”, including packaging.

The Government will also legislate to restrict Australian internet advertising of tobacco products, bringing the internet into line with restrictions already in place in other media.

At the same time, the Government will boost investments in hard hitting advertising campaigns by $27.8 million over four years, to a total of more than $85 million in the next four years, to encourage even more Australians to quit smoking.

This additional investment will be used for campaigns targeting people in high-need and highly disadvantaged groups such as low socio-economic communities and pregnant women and their partners.

This will extend and broaden the focus of the previous National Youth Tobacco Campaign.

The first elements of the new campaigns will be rolled out by the end of this year.

Through the Australian Taxation Office and Customs and Border Security the Government will continue its successful strong enforcement against the production and importation of illicit tobacco.

This comprehensive anti-smoking package follows this week’s landmark COAG agreement delivering fundamental reform to Australia’s health and hospital system, and builds upon other actions the Government has taken to improve preventative health:

  • A record $872 million investment in preventative health including programs in schools, workplaces and community settings
  • $103.5 million under the National Binge Drinking Strategy
  • The decision to establish the Australian National Preventative Health Agency which is currently being blocked by the Opposition in the Senate.
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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.