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ABC News Breakfast -

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TOPICS: United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases; Plain
Packaging of Tobacco; Polls

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Now, the Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, will be pushing for other
countries to follow Australia's lead and to legislate for the plain packaged tobacco at a summit
that she's attending on disease prevention.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The Minister's currently in New York for a United Nations summit looking at some
of the western world's biggest killers such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes and the Minister
joins us now from Manhattan.

Nicola Roxon, good morning, thanks for making time.

NICOLA ROXON: It's a pleasure.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: How can this summit realistically achieve reductions in those preventable,
lifestyle-related diseases?

NICOLA ROXON: Well, this is only the second time in the world that the United Nations in its
history has had the whole world combined talking about a health issue.

The last time was more than a decade ago on HIV-AIDS and now we see that non-communicable diseases
like heart disease and stroke and diabetes and cancer are actually becoming very big killers in the
developing world as well as the western world so it is now a matter of great international
importance what we can do particularly to reduce the harm from things like tobacco which we know is
preventable but there's a lot of effort that goes into reducing smoking rates around the world and
we're talking about those issues: obesity, alcohol consumption, healthier lifestyles, and it's very
interesting how engaged the rest of the world is in steps that Australia's taking through
introducing plain packaging and quite a lot of interest.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Now, while you're away, the tobacco industry, as you're probably aware, has
stepped up its fight. In fact, we can show our viewers some of the full-page ads running in papers
this morning by the tobacco industry, once again saying it's going to be the end of trademark
protections and foreshadowing possible legal action against the Government once, and if, these
plain packaging laws come into effect. How confident, Minister, are you that you'll prevail in this

NICOLA ROXON: We're very confident but it's really interesting to be at an international forum like
this one where you can compare with other countries around the world, and even look at Australia's
own history, every step that's been taken in every country to control or reduce the consumption of
tobacco has been fought, every step.

So we know that there's going to be legal challenges. We know that the companies ultimately fight
where they can. Sometimes they fold their cards and move on to the next fight.

I think that because this is a world first, of course the companies will fight hard but we are very
determined to do this.

It's the last type of advertising and promotion that's available in Australia so getting rid of
those logos, colour, things that make tobacco maybe attractive or glamorous to women or to young
smokers, is important and it will emphasise the health warning which we're trying to get through to
people, to bring the smoking rate down to our target of 10 per cent by 2018 and we think we can do

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Are other countries showing any real - any genuine interest in following your lead
on plain packaging?

NICOLA ROXON: There's an enormous amount of interest.

Look, every country's at a different stage. This is the next logical step for Australia and there
are other countries that are like-minded and are interested but I'm actually more focused on making
sure people understand what we're doing, that they look in their own country at what the next step
is for them, and also to be aware of the tactics that tobacco companies are using.

We can share that information, we can support each other, we can make sure that everyone knows
what's going on in other countries.

Tobacco companies are multinational ones, they work across borders and we need to do that in our
determination to protect the community from harm caused by smoking.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: And finally, Minister, I'm sure you're keeping tabs on domestic politics while
you're in New York. We have a Newspoll that shows the Government's primary vote down to 26 per cent
this morning, the so-called Malaysia solution looks as though it could be up in smoke. It's fair to
say that the Government's packaging is looking fairly tatty at the moment, isn't it?

NICOLA ROXON: Well, I guess that's a play on plain packaging. It's not up to us to be the
commentators. Obviously those sorts of polls are never good for a Government but we have to do what
we believe is right to govern the country strongly.

We're taking all sorts of actions in important areas, health is one of them, but you can see what
we're doing in education, the National Broadband Network, other areas. We just need to keep doing
that and the polls will come and go.

Ultimately people expect us to act in the interests of the community and that's why I'm here
arguing internationally for tobacco control.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Okay, Nicola Roxon in New York, thank you very much again for your time this

NICOLA ROXON: It's a pleasure.