Plain Packaging: Imperial Tobacco Australia Pre-empts Legislation

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Image 2. Screen grab of Peter Stuyvesant packaging Australia September 2012. Screengrab from the Telegraph, (archived webpage)

Image 1. Screen grab of trade magazine advert for Peter Stuyvesant Australia September 2012. Screengrab from the Sydney Morning Herald, (archived webpage)

On the 1 December 2012, plain packaging will be introduced in Australia. Cigarettes will be required to be sold in olive green packaging with large pictorial health warnings and brand names appearing in standardised font. In the lead up to the legislation, from 1 October 2012, cigarette packaging produced in Australia must be the approved new plain packaging.
On the 12 September 2012, it was reported in the media that Imperial Tobacco had changed the packaging of their Peter Stuyvesant brand ahead of the introduction of plain packaging.12 Peter Stuyvesant packaging has been changed to show a ripped branded pack exposing plain packaging underneath (Images 1 and 2). The accompanying slogan says “it’s what on the inside that counts”.
Australia’s Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek spoke out against Imperial Tobacco’s part plain packaging and its catchphrase. Plibersek is quoted as having said, “For a company to have produced packs that contain the line, ‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts’ must surely be the ultimate sick joke from big tobacco…Diseased lungs, hearts and arteries are the reality of what is happening on the inside to a smoker.”
Imperial Tobacco stated that their packaging was created to advise consumers of Peter Stuyvesants that the brand will shortly be changing colour. A spokeswoman for Imperial said. “It is important to inform our adult consumers that the product itself will remain unchanged.” 3
Speaking on the ABC News today in Australia on the 12 September 2012, Plibersek claimed that the Imperial campaign is a “last desperate attempt for them Tobacco to use their branding to retain and attract new smokers…”


  1. S. Gardiner, Plain package row: tobacco company resorts to ‘sick joke’, 12 September 2012, accessed September 2012
  2. J. Pearlman, Australian tobacco accused of ‘sick joke’, 12 September 2012, accessed September 2012
  3. ABC News, New cigarette pack slogan a ‘sick irony’, 12 September 2012, accessed 2012