Tobacco bill before the Australian Senate — “a symphony of law reform”

Matthew Rimmer
3 min readDec 5, 2023

QUT Media

29th November 2023

QUT researcher Professor Matthew Rimmer, who contributed to the Senate report on the new tobacco regulation bill, has praised the legislation as laying the foundation for law reform on regulation of tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Professor Matthew Rimmer, from the QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Research and a long-time campaigner for tobacco regulation, welcomed the Public Health (Tobacco and other Products) Bill 2023 currently being debated in the Senate.

“The Albanese Government should be congratulated on its leadership, initiative and vision on the promotion of public health,” Professor Rimmer said.

“This legislation is a symphony of law reform. It consolidates disparate pieces of law, and brings them together in a modern, coherent form.

“The bill enhances past pioneering reforms — such as plain packaging of tobacco products. It lays the foundation for future law reform in respect of a tobacco endgame and the regulation of e-cigarettes.

“The legislation should be passed through the Senate without further delay.”

While enthusiastically supporting the bill, Professor Rimmer wrote in his submission that the Public Health (Tobacco and other Products) Bill 2023 should have a separate chapter dealing with the threat of tobacco interference in public health policy through donations to political parties or individuals.

“We have persistent concerns about the tobacco industry and related entities donating to political parties and individual politicians to influence political decision-making,” Professor Rimmer said.

“Senator David Pocock’s additional comments in the report noted allowing the tobacco industry to make political donations did not align with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“Senator Pocock said ‘the influence of Big Tobacco in Parliament … should not be tolerated. This is counter to our international obligations under the WHO FCTC, is out of step with community expectations and is firmly outside the public interest’.

“He called for transparency around all passes to Parliament House held by corporation lobbyists including those of the tobacco industry.”

Professor Rimmer’s submission was cited throughout the Senate report.

The submission commented on many aspects of the bill including: the need to expand the bill to protect present and future generations from the devastating harms tobacco causes; comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco, e-cigarettes, and related products; the extension of plain packaging regime to e-cigarettes, vaping and other emerging products; greater transparency in tobacco industry operations; addressing civil and criminal liability.

Professor Rimmer said he expected the bill would be passed before the end of the year.

(Main image: Kristaps Solim on Upsplash)

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Matthew Rimmer

Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, QUT. #Copyright #Patent #Trademark #plainpacks #Access2meds #SDGs #Climate #IndigenousIP #trade #TPP