Feeds

Now Oz to ban online cigarette ads

Or to ban internet deals for cheap smokes ... we're not sure

The essential guide to IT transformation

Once a government has become used to the idea of banning things, it can be a hard habit to give up – as Australian voters who still enjoy the occasional cigarette are likely to soon find out.

This time last week, Down Under's Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, stood up in the Australian parliament and introduced a new Bill – the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Bill 2010 (pdf) – that would make it an offence to advertise cigarettes and other tobacco products on the internet.

It is not entirely clear just how wide a ban the government has in mind. The bill itself is full of the incomprehensible legalese with which public servants seem to enjoy baffling the public. For instance, "the heading to section 10 is altered by omitting 'a tobacco advertisement' and substituting 'a tobacco advertisement'". This is pure Marx brothers!

There is also some difference of emphasis between the words with which the minister introduced the bill and the accompanying press release. According to Roxon, the bill "seeks to make it an offence to advertise tobacco products on the internet and in other electronic media".

That sounds pretty comprehensive and no-nonsense. However the accompanying release from the Australian Department for Health states only: "Prohibiting retailers from peddling cigarettes as 'cheap' or 'tax-free' on the internet is the latest step in the Gillard Government’s hard-hitting and comprehensive action to reduce Australia’s smoking rates."

So: either this is a complete ban on advertising tobacco products to Australians – or it is a partial ban directed at advertising cheap tobacco products. So far, so unclear.

There is, too, the slight issue of who will be affected by this proposed law.

According to the new section 15A of the Bill, a person commits an offence if they publish, authorise or cause to be published a tobacco advertisement electronically, in Australia.

This does not just cover Australian citizens. Rather, as the next section makes clear, "publication in Australia" applies not only where an ad originates in Australia, but the advertisement has an Australian link and it is accessible, or intended to be accessible by the public, or a section of the public, in Australia.

So does that mean UK companies trying to sell cigarettes through Australian subsidiaries are going to be in trouble? We really couldn’t say, as at this point it would appear that section 16A would apply. Despite spending some time poring over the wording of this section, we still can’t make head or tail of it.

So there you have it: cigarette advertising in Australia could soon be illegal. Or not. It all depends on how you interpret the small print of the proposed legislation.

Meanwhile, that horrid sing-song somewhere off-stage is the sound of all those who have been opposing Australia’s firewall plans warbling "we told you so".

For once, however, the Australian censors lag behind the UK. According to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, the UK made internet advertising of cigarettes and tobacco unlawful some time back – in 2006, to be precise – courtesy of an amendment to the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.