Cigar Manufacturers Concerned over Australia's Law

Published on December 28th, 2011 00:00

Australia and Cuba – one is a strong economy with a duty-free trade agenda and the other is a one-party state where the government determines prices and rations food. But that has not stopped Cuban Ambassador to Australia Pedro Monson Barata from blaming Canberra of ignoring trademark protection and trampling duty-free trade.

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Currently introduced tobacco retailing rules that intend to affect the sales of Cuban cigars in Australia have raised Barata’s tirade. The more vexing was the High Court challenge from the leading tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris International, which manufactures Marlboro and many other worlds’ top 15 cigarette brands.

Philip Morris declares that plain packaging makes smoking products similar to other commodities, thus depriving Philip Morris of its right to distinguish its products from rival brands. Within a year all tobacco products should come only in plain packaging, any logos and brand images will be prohibited. Graphic health warnings will have to cover the main part of the package.

The new rules are directed at cigarette smokers and cigar smokers that are considered to be additional damage.”I don’t even know whether I will be continuing my business next year. I have spent probably half of this year, worrying how I am going to struggle with the given regulations,” stated Ray Battistella representative of one of the nation’s largest cigar importers. In accordance with the regulations, all tubes, tins and wooden boxes should be covered with a plain paper.

According to the regulations, the tins, tubes and would have to be covered in plain paper. The bands on individual cigars would have to be hidden. “All this will mislead customers who buy a selection, as they wouldn’t know what they were smoking within a month,” Battistella stated.

Smoking was subject to criticism in Australia for about 100 years. Increased taxes, ban on any advertisement and restricted sales have decreased smoking rates to approximately the lowest in the world. One of the Melbourne retailers said that he is hoping that the government will lessen and exempt the dominating cigar market from interdictions intended for cigarettes.”I don’t think that we are going to rich that point,” stated Danny Alexander, forecasting that common sense would dictate abandonment for cigars. “There are hundreds, thousand of different cigarette brands. How are we going to differentiate them?” he asked. The main complain from cigar sellers is that the new regulations are one more reason for Australians to outwit local retailers and order their smokes from foreign websites.

By Kevin Lawson, Staff Writer. Copyright © 2011 All rights reserved.

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