By the CNN Wire Staff
Australia could become the first country in the world to require cigarette packages to be stripped of logos and designs.
By July 2012, all cigarettes in the country will be sold in plain packs carrying graphic warnings against smoking, according to an anti-smoking initiative announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s office.
“Now the big tobacco companies are going to go out there and whinge, whine, complain, consider every form of legal action known to man,” Rudd told reporters. “That’s par for course. We, the government, will not be intimidated by any big tobacco company trying to get in the road of doing the right thing.”
Health Minister Nicola Roxon told CNN affiliate and public broadcaster, ABC, that the legislation will be drafted to withstand legal challenges from tobacco companies.
“We have firm advice that this action can be taken. Our legislation will be very carefully drafted,” she said. Cigarette companies have said they are looking at legal options, worried the law will cut into their profits.
“Introducing plain packaging just takes away the ability of a consumer to identify our brand from another brand and that’s of value to us,” Cathie Keogh, a spokeswoman for Imperial Tobacco Australia, told ABC Radio.
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