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New Zealand plans tobacco logo law

Strict against smoking already, New Zealand plans to make tobacco companies remove their logos from cigarette packs but will wait until a challenge to a similar Australian law is resolved.

The packaging law "will remove the last remaining vestige of glamor from these deadly products," Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia said in announcing the plan Tuesday.

New Zealand already has increased cigarette taxes and makes retailers hide packs below the counter. The new legislation would follow an Australian law that took effect in December and replaced logos on packs with graphic warnings including cancer-riddled mouths.

The proposed law could be introduced in Parliament later this year to take effect when the trade case over Australia's law plays out, next year at the earliest.

Tobacco companies lost a legal challenge in Australia's highest court last year, but the World Trade Organization has agreed to hear a complaint about the law from several tobacco-growing countries led by the Ukraine.

The Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Indonesia argued that governments should pursue health policies "without unnecessarily restricting international trade and without nullifying intellectual property rights."

New Zealand, Norway and Uruguay have lined up behind Australia in the WTO case. Uruguay told the trade body it couldn't remain silent about "the most serious pandemic confronting humanity."

The Canadian Press

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