An Australian retail group has announced they believe the federal government’s plain packaging of tobacco policy could increase the amount of illegally sold tobacco in counterfeit packaging. In a statement released on Friday, the Alliance of Australian Retailers said the policy would not only encourage the illegal tobacco trade but also cause unnecessary confusion for retail staff and create delays in service time. “The AAR believes that the introduction of plain packaging will make counterfeit cigarette packets even easier, increasing the risk of people under the age of 18 being exposed to cheap Monte Carlo black-market cigarettes,” the spokesman said.

An exposure draft of the proposed Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011states the legislation would improve public health by reducing the appeal of tobacco products and increasing the effectiveness of health warnings on the packaging.

It also states the legislation would reduce the ability of the packaging to mislead consumers about the harmful effects of smoking.

Tweed residents have been split down the middle with the release of draft legislation demanding plain packaging on all tobacco products.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has released a public exposure draft of legislation to make plain packaging mandatory by July 2012.

The legislation could ultimately prohibit the use of any trademark, logo, brand, business or company name on any tobacco product packaging.

“This plain packaging legislation is a world first and sends a clear message that the glamour is gone – cigarette packs will now only show the death and disease that can come from smoking,” Ms Roxon said.

The Tweed Daily News caught up with shoppers at Tweed City Shopping Centre yesterday.

There were mixed emotions concerning the proposed plain packaging, with many convinced nothing would deter smokers and others keen for all

measures taken against smoking to be supported.

Primary school teacher Marie Morel said the legislation will do nothing to deter smokers.

“If they want to smoke, they will smoke,” Ms Morel said.

“It won’t change addicted smokers and it won’t stop kids either. Kids start smoking because it’s cool, not because the packaging is pretty.”

However, electrician Steve Firmstone believed anything that could be done should be done.

“It will be great if it stops people from smoking,” Mr Firmstone said.

“We have to start doing something.”