| 13.01,12. 05:20 AM |
Tobacco under fire for 'roo' ciggies
January 13, 2012
BIG tobacco is exploiting one of Australia's most recognisable national symbols so it can sell more cigarettes in Europe.
British American Tobacco is using an image of a kangaroo on some European Winfield packets along with the phrase "An Australian Favourite".
One anti-smoking advocate dubbed the symbol the "cancer kangaroo".
It comes as the global tobacco giant prepares a legal battle against the Gillard government's plain packaging laws.
The government said BAT's "sneaky" branding showed why plain packaging of cigarettes was needed.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, who as health minister led the charge to scrap branding on tobacco products, said the packs were "outrageous".
"Before we know it we'll see Sydney Ciggies or Melbourne Menthols," she said.
"This kind of weasel marketing tactic will soon have no place here in Australia when all cigarettes will be in plain packaging from December."
The government is facing multiple legal challenges to its laws. In April, BAT Australia and three international companies will go to the High Court to argue that the laws are unconstitutional.
A BAT spokesman said he couldn't comment on packets sold with kangaroo symbols because they were marketed by a different arm of the company.
Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said the "cancer kangaroo" used by BAT in Europe should be culled.
"BAT are really capitalising on the reputation that Australia has internationally as being outdoors with blue skies and healthy lifestyles - saying 'you can be like this'," Ms Sharkie said.
"There's nothing glamorous about smoking."