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Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Page: 249

Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 9 March 2006:

(1)   Is the Government aware of a new retail promotion for Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes on offer in a number of capital cities, including Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, that consists of 20 cigarettes inside a tin container which has peel off health warnings on the outside of the tin.

(2)   Does this new packaging breach the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Tobacco) Regulations 2004, in particular regulation 16(2)(c).

(3)   Is the Government or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission aware that retailers are informing customers that these cigarettes are ‘light’, as indicated by the blue and white colour coded sticker; if not, will an investigation be conducted into this claim.

(4)   Is it the case that cigarette retailers stockpiled the pre-graphic warning products to delay the necessity to sell packs with the graphic warnings, which came into effect on 1 March 2006.

(5)   What, if any, action will be taken against manufacturers or retailers if significant stockpiling has taken place.

Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The supplier of the cigarettes which has been the subject of media reports has advised the ACCC that the new graphic health warnings which are being applied to cigarette packages, manufactured or imported after 1 March 2006, are all printed onto the packages. The use of adhesive labels has been discontinued.

(2)   The ACCC is unable to comment on conduct that is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

(3)   The ACCC until now has not been provided with any information concerning such allegations, however should it receive specific details of such conduct it would consider this matter.

(4)   The ACCC is not aware of any evidence that retailers increased levels of stock holdings not bearing the graphic warnings prior to 1 March 2006.

(5)   The ACCC refers to its answer to (4) above. The ageing of tobacco products and the costs associated with stockpiling would act as deterrents against such practices.