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Australia tobacco sales edge up despite plain packaging

Published on Mar 24, 2014 10:01 AM

LONDON (REUTERS) - Deliveries of tobacco to retailers in Australia rose slightly last year for the first time in at least five years, even after the introduction of plain packaging aimed at deterring smokers, according to industry sales figures to be released on Monday.

Australia, which in December 2012 became the first country to ban branded cigarette packs, is being closely watched for signs of success as other nations including Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom explore similar measures.

Britain last year appointed a respected paediatrician to examine whether plain packaging would reduce the health costs of smoking. The doctor's report is expected this week.

In 2013, the first full year of plain packaging, tobacco companies sold the equivalent of 21.074 billion cigarettes in Australia, according to industry data provided by Marlboro maker Philip Morris International.

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