Tobacco Plain Packaging Enforcement Policy Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Tobacco Plain Packaging Enforcement Policy ?
A. The Tobacco Plain Packaging Enforcement Policy (Enforcement Policy) explains the options for enforcement of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations 2011 (together, the legislation) and the strategies and priorities that will guide decisions about enforcement actions in the initial period of full operation of the legislation.

Q. What issues of non-compliance is the Government aware of ?
A. The Government is aware of issues relating to the appearance of cigarette sticks which may not be compliant with the legislation. Specifically:

The Department of Health and Ageing has held discussions with affected tobacco companies and has been advised that all major tobacco companies in the Australian market are producing cigarette sticks with compliant paper casing and alphanumeric codes as at the end of January 2013.

Q. Why has the Government extended the Tobacco Plain Packaging Enforcement Policy ?
A. The Australian Government is committed to the full enforcement of the legislation. However, as it will take a short additional period for non-compliant cigarette sticks to move through the supply chain in the Australian market and be sold, the Government has decided to extend the sell-through period in the Enforcement Policy from 28 February to 30 June 2013.

The implementation of tobacco plain packaging in Australia is a significant achievement for public health and there remains only a minor issue relating to the sell-through period of non-compliant cigarette sticks.

Q. Who will benefit from the extended sell-through period ?
A. The extended sell-through period will assist the approximately 35,000 Australian tobacco retailers who may find that, through no fault of their own, they have residual quantities of non-compliant cigarette sticks in otherwise compliant plain packaging. The Government recognises that retailers are unable to identify this issue without opening cigarette packaging.

The sell-through period recognises that in practice, a limited number of non-compliant cigarette sticks in compliant packaging may take longer than expected to flow through the supply chain, especially in small retail stores in suburban, rural and remote areas.

Q. When will the Enforcement Policy be effective ?
A. The updated Enforcement Policy is applicable from 28 February 2013. The sell-through period has been extended in this policy from 28 February 2013 to 30 June 2013. The sell-through period will not be extended beyond this date.

Q. What will happen under this policy if I am found to have non-compliant cigarette sticks in otherwise compliant plain packaging after 30 June 2013 ?
A. Where non-compliant cigarette sticks in otherwise compliant plain packaging are found in the retail market after 30 June 2013, the Tobacco Plain Packaging Enforcement Committee will consider the various enforcement options available and respond appropriately.

In determining what enforcement action to undertake, the Enforcement Committee will consider the conduct of manufacturers, particularly whether the relevant manufacturer facilitated the return of non-compliant stock from the retailer in question within a reasonable time period.

Manufacturers and suppliers who are non-compliant with the legislation for any other reason will be issued with a Notice of Alleged Non-Compliance, a warning or an infringement notice, or court action may be initiated against the manufacturer.

Q. Does this mean retailers can continue selling branded stock until 30 June 2013 ?
A. No, selling tobacco products in branded packaging is a clear breach of the legislation and will not be tolerated.

Q. Where can I get more information about the Government’s Enforcement Policy ?
A. The Tobacco Plain Packaging Enforcement Policy can be found on the yourHealth website. The yourHealth website also provides extensive information on the tobacco plain packaging legislation.

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Page last updated 20 February, 2013