The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill ("the Bill”), which aims to amend the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 to give effect to the Government’s decision of 18 February 2013 to introduce a plain packaging regime for tobacco products in New Zealand, has been examined by the Health Committee (“the Select Committee”) which recommends that it be passed subject to minor amendments. For further background information see our article on the Bill following its first reading.

The Select Committee received and considered 15,682 submissions from interested groups and individuals and heard oral evidence from 33 submitters.

The Bill and subsequent regulations will set out detailed requirements for the design and physical appearance of any packaging used or intended for use with tobacco products, and of the tobacco products themselves, that must be complied with for tobacco products manufactured, distributed, or sold in New Zealand.

The Bill will also amend existing regulation-making powers regarding health warnings on tobacco products to broaden their scope to include warnings of wider adverse social and economic effects, and also to allow positive health promotion messages. The Bill will also create new offences with substantial penalties to deter and punish non-compliance.

The Select Committee Report (dated 5 August 2013) notes:

The bill would not have any effect on intellectual property rights to register, own, and enforce trademarks and copyright in designs; it is only the use of trademarks and copyrighted designs as promotional devices on tobacco products and packaging that would be controlled.”

An interesting amendment is to the title of the Bill which the Select Committee recommends is changed to Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Standardised Packaging) Amendment Act 2013, as this is considered to “reflect more accurately the intended consequences of the bill”.

The Bill is now available for its second reading.