The Australian Government is weighing up new methods to cut smoking in half over next decade.
Health Minister Mark Butler says the Government is looking to go one further than the current plain packaging laws, revealing the next step is to alter cigarettes within the packet.
“We know that the tobacco industry has innovated by trying to make individual sticks or individual cigarettes more attractive, more marketable, in the plain packaging,” he said.
“We want to remove that advantage that the tobacco industry has sought to find for itself.
“The aim is to achieve a national daily smoking prevalence of less than 10 per cent by 2025, in just three years, and five per cent or less by 2030.”
Everything from printing health disclaimers on individual cigarettes to changing the colour to something more unappealing has been discussed.
Flavoured cigarettes, such as menthols, could also be on the chopping block.
“I want to see a discussion about colours that make them unattractive, about dissuasive messages on individual sticks, which the Canadian government has just indicated they‘re going to go forward with,” he said.
Megan Varlow from the Cancer Council said the main goal in deterrence strategy was to remind smokers of the damage they are causing as often as possible.
“The colours that the research has looked at so far are things like a very yucky brown or a sludgy green, they‘re not the sorts of things that you want to put in your mouth,” she said.
“Coupled with the warnings that we see on packs, what they do is they reinforce the harms associated with cigarettes, and remind people every time they have a smoke.
“So if there‘s 20 cigarettes in a packet, that’s 20 reminders of the damage that the cigarette is doing.”
Health Minister Butler also addressed Australia’s issue with vaping, warning of a crackdown on advertising techniques used to target children.
“Vapes that are marketed out there with pink unicorns, bubblegum flavours, fruit flavours — they are not being marketed to adults,” he said.
“That is clearly marketing that‘s pitched to young children and very young adolescents.”
Mr Butler said Australia was keeping a close eye on New Zealand’s regulation on vaping, claiming “nothing is off the table” in the government’s push to reduce nicotine addiction.
“I don‘t think anything is off the table, in terms of the discussions that I’m having with state ministerial colleagues,” he said.
“Also, they obviously are having discussions with their colleagues in other portfolios that would have a role in playing in putting in place a regulation like that.”