Rachel Croucher | The Lithuania Tribune
Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius announced last month that he was interested in following Australia’s lead on restricting tobacco companies’ ability to promote their brands on cigarette packets.
On 23 August Kubilius announced on Žinių radijas: “I have not seen the design of the Australian packets. Yet, I see no limits for looking for new ways to encourage people to quit this damaging habit. I myself twice gave up smoking and the second try was successful. Therefore, I would not be against something as was suggested and implemented by the Australians.”
On 11 October 2005 a new standard for labelling on tobacco products came into effect in Australia. Among a variety of health warnings, cigarette companies were also forbidden from displaying their company logos on cigarette packaging. It also became mandatory for packets to display graphic images of tobacco-related illnesses such as oral tumours, rotting teeth, bleeding lungs and diseased limbs and eyes on 30 percent of a packet’s front, and 90 percent of its rear.
In more recent developments, however, Australia’s High Court last month rejected a challenge by tobacco companies hoping to use their designs and logos on cigarette packaging again. Additionally, in December of this year all cigarette packets in Australia will comprise of nothing more than health warnings and graphic images on plain olive green packaging.
It remains to be seen whether Kubilius will implement such stringent restrictions as Australia. Nevertheless, his public favouring of such regulations on tobacco advertising in Lithuania are indicative of a significant cultural shift on the issue of smoking among the country’s political elite.