Store owner may face hurdles on "roll your own" cigarette machines

Charlie Saliby and his family, who own Guimond Farms in Fall River, are fighting a cigarette war of sorts — one that hasn’t officially started in Massachusetts but is hovering on the horizon.
“My parents opened this store about 16 years ago, and I got my college education so I could run the family business,” Saliby said during an interview last week.
Saliby, the son of immigrants, talked about finishing at the very top of his class at B.M.C. Durfee High School and at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth as a business major.
He said he has a motto for success at the South End variety store at Rhode Island and Plymouth avenues, one that follows one principle: “I listen to my customers to see what they want.”
When his parents, Sami and Nouhad Saliby, his sister, Nicole, and he began struggling to make do with the store’s sales six years ago, Guimond Farms expanded its offering by obtaining a beer and wine license. Two years ago, the store added a full alcohol license.
The store — an established mom-and-pop store previously run by the Guimond family for about 30 years — has expanded in other ways, too. Next to its large wine display, it has a large selection of ice cream. The family also owns a laundromat next door.
One of its largest investments came recently in the form of two “roll-your-own” high-tech cigarette machines that allow smokers essentially to buy less-expensive pipe tobacco and cigarette rolling papers, and rent the machine.
Two months ago, the family bought one machine, the size of a heating boiler. Two weeks ago, they bought a second one. The investment cost $32,500 for each machine, Saliby said.
The reason for the expansion goes back to listening to customers.
A decade ago, cigarette smokers found the price of cigarettes — then approaching $4 a pack — was becoming prohibitive.
With federal and state governments tacking on significantly higher taxes the past few years, established brands now can cost about $7 to $8 a pack.
In the past few years, federal taxes on cigarettes increased from 39 cents to $1.01 a pack and taxes on cigarette-rolling tobacco also increased significantly. Massachusetts taxes jumped $1 to $2.51 in 2009, making it one of the highest-taxing states.
“When the price of cigarette packs went up,” Saliby said, “customers started buying loose tobacco rolling tubes and rolling their own cigarettes at home.”
The 8-ounce packages of pipe tobacco are taxed at a fraction of cigarette tobacco packs the past two years, according to published reports.
Saliby sells those products, including machines that roll individual cigarettes for $40 to $50.
For the person needing to roll a pack or two daily, that can take a long time, typically upwards of two hours to roll the 10 packs that come in a carton. In such instances, roll-your-own machines can come in very handy.
Roll Your Own Machine LLC, based in Girard, Ohio, with a distributor in Massachusetts, makes many of the machines.
Using the RYO machines that are available at 1,700 retail outlets and 40 states across the nation, a customer can produce 200 machine-rolled cigarettes — the equivalent of a carton — in 10 to 15 minutes, Saliby said.
Saliby said he learned about the opportunity from colleagues running convenience stores in Taunton, Brockton, New Bedford and elsewhere who bought them over the past year or so.
The process is simple and quick, Saliby said.
A customer empties an 8-ounce bag of pipe tobacco into a small hopper on the RYO machine. A box of 200 filtered paper tubes is loaded into another compartment. Then, the calibration, or packing level, is set and the machine is turned on.
Instructions come in a half-dozen languages, including English, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and others.
Customers must be 18 or older to use the machines.
“We don’t do it for customers; they do it for themselves,” Saliby said. The exception is if there’s a glitch with the machinery.
After each cigarette runs through the machine, it drops into a plastic bin.
The cost is $29.73 total, including tax. At about $3 for 20 cigarettes, the number in a pack, it’s less than half of what most manufactured cigarettes cost, Saliby said.
The price breakdown includes $12.99 for various pipe tobacco brands taxed at 6.25 percent, just a fraction of cigarette tobacco taxes; $2.99 for the rollers; and $12.76 to rent the machine.
Still, Saliby has reason to fear the word “manufacture,” based upon what regulators are doing in other states, overtures from the Massachusetts attorney general’s office and federal initiatives.
“They’re trying to say people using the machines are manufacturers,” Saliby said. He emphasized that customers operate the store’s RYO machine as they would at home using smaller, personal, roll-your-own machines.
Retailers like him and marketers and lawyers involved with the RYO machines have been gearing up for battle over the past couple of years.
According to RYO Machines attorney Bryan Haynes in Richmond, Va., the U.S. Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the Treasury Department issued a significant ruling on Sept. 30, 2010.
“They said any business offering these machines in a retail store for consumers to produce their own cigarettes, they have to obtain a permit … in order to allow consumers to rent the machines,” Haynes said.
It would be the same costly permit a Philip Morris or R.J. Reynolds needs to obtain.
In late 2010, lawyers for RYO machine obtained a temporary restraining order, then an injunction, in Girard, Ohio, stopping the federal mandate, Haynes said.
But Haynes said that, during the past three months, the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has issued to some storeowners what’s called “Civil Investigative Demands,” or CIDs.
He declined to provide a CID example, even redacted, that was issued to one of the company’s clients. In general, he said, a CID is a demand for information about how the business operates — one step in the investigatory process.
Haynes said there have been court cases in a half-dozen states, one in New Hampshire that went to the Supreme Court and favored the state being able to collect cigarette taxes on an RYO machine owner.
There was another completed case in Alaska, one on appeal in West Virginia and cases pending in Connecticut, Wisconsin and Michigan, Haynes said.
The lawyer said they’d have “potential for concern” in Massachusetts because of attempted prosecution in other states.
Coakley’s office last week would not confirm any ongoing investigation into roll-your-own machines other than to say the office takes steps to investigate perceived illegal activity and breaking of any laws in general.
Saliby said he’s known of the state issuing CIDs to retailers, but his operation is new and he’s not received such a letter.
Within a “fact” list about RYO, the machine manufacturer said their 1,700 RYO filling machines nationwide have created 4,500 jobs; that retailers like Guimond receive territorial contracts and that “people have been rolling their own cigarettes for centuries.”
“The machines are becoming more and more popular,” Saliby said.
He said at their store, open seven days a week, they have 25 to 35 customers daily, more on weekends. He’s added a couple of employees, bolstered by increased tobacco and other sales, he said.
“I got these machines to give my customers an alternative to rolling their own cigarettes at home,” he said.

Payless Tobacco Opens Up Shop in Albertville

Payless Tobacco has opened its first location and has hit the ground running with just a few days behind them.
“We’ve had a lot of activity,” Payless marketing director and part owner, Burt Alexander, said Tuesday. Alexander said he came out of retirement to open the shop with family friends.
The shop, which is located in the mall with Caribou and Subway near County Road 19 and Interstate 94, advertised with nearly 21,000 inserts and coupons in the local shoppper and boasts a large savings over convenience and gas stations.
“It’s a big cost difference,” he said.
The group is looking beyond Albertville, too.
“This is just our first location, we don’t hope to open others, we are going to open other locations,” Burt said.
The store sells just about any tobacco product imaginable ranging from cigarettes, chewing tobacco, roll your own tobacco, tobacco accessories and cigars.
The roll your own is especially popular as customers can expect to pay approximately $1.20/pack versus $6.00/pack. “It’s a very big item these days,” Burt said.
“It’s more than about selling for me,” part owner Sean Albarghouthi said. “It’s about having a one to one relationship and conversation, paying attention to each and every customer and what they need and desire.”
The two promise that if there is something not in store that a customer wants, they will get it, most of the time within 24 hours.
Sean was born and raised in the tobacco shop business and runs the business along with family friend, Burt and family.
In addition to running the day to day business of the shop, Sean also designed and decorated the entire shop. “I drew on paper how we wanted it to look, along with the design of the humidor,” he said.
“There’s a big demand for good, quality cigars. I’ve been a cigar lover all of my life. There’s nothing better,” Burt said.
The cigar selection is impeccable. With a walk-in humidor insulated to keep the humidity at 68 to 72 percent humidity at all times, every detail was thought of.
“We spent days visiting lumberyards looking for just the right cedar wood,” Sean said.
“It’s exciting to finally be open and to be doing well right away,” Burt said also noting the nearest tobacco shops are in Monticello and Maple Grove.
“The time and location was right,” Sean added.
By Samara Postuma

Public health groups ask Orange Bowl, NCAA to pull cigar company sponsorship

Several public health organizations are calling on the Orange Bowl and the NCAA to pull a three-year deal with Camacho Cigars, saying tobacco promotions like the Florida cigar company’s sponsorship of the football games have no place in sports and shouldn’t be allowed under federal tobacco marketing restrictions.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society and eight other groups sent a letter on Tuesday to game organizers and officials with the collegiate athletic group that raised concerns over the deal.
The move by the public health groups is the latest in a push to get tobacco out of sports.
The Camacho Cigars sponsorship includes a large presence at several game-day events for the maker of Camacho and Baccarat The Game cigars, including lounges where fans can light up. The agreement is for the 2012-2014 Orange Bowl games and the 2013 BCS National Championship.
This year’s game in South Florida will be played Jan. 4 between Clemson and West Virginia.
“The association of cigar smoking with one of the nation’s top collegiate sporting events sends the wrong message to impressionable young fans and helps market cigars as athletic, masculine and cool,” the groups wrote in the letter. “Linking tobacco use to sports also downplays the serious health risks of tobacco products.”
In the letter, the groups say cigars are just as dangerous as any other tobacco use, which is responsible for about 443,000 deaths a year in the U.S. In some cases, the groups say cigars have higher toxins, tar and cancer-causing chemicals. They also say the cigar company sponsorship conflicts with NCAA rules that forbid student-athletes and all game personnel from using tobacco in any form at practice or in competitions.
Representatives for the Orange Bowl, Camacho Cigars and the NCAA did not immediately provide comment.
A 2009 law gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products like cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, including restrictions on marketing like using brand names to sponsor athletic, musical, social and cultural events. Despite plans to do so in the future, the FDA has not yet asserted its authority over cigars, so those marketing restrictions don’t currently apply.
Cigarette smoking has been declining in the U.S., and about 21 percent of adults smoked in 2009. But consumption of cigars has remained at about 5.3 percent in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More young people smoke cigarettes, however — about 11 percent of high school students smoke cigars and about 17 percent of them smoke cigarettes.
Public health groups argue that when athletes are seen using the products, they set a bad health example for kids who look up to them as role models.
Major League Baseball players agreed in November not to carry tobacco packages and tins in their back pockets when fans are permitted in the ballpark and not to use tobacco during pregame or postgame interviews or team functions. But there is no ban on using it during games.
By Associated Press

NYC roll-your-own cigs shop to close after lawsuit

A company that was helping New York smokers avoid high taxes by having them roll their own cigarettes on machines in the store has agreed to shut down after being sued by the city.
New York City’s Law Department announced Friday that Island Smokes, which had two tobacco shops in the city and was based on Staten Island, would shut down Feb. 1 in order to resolve a lawsuit filed in late November.
A lawyer for the company said it would have been too expensive to fight the case.
“It really was a business decision. It’s the old adage that you can’t fight City Hall,” said the attorney, Jonathan Behrins. “From a lawyer’s perspective, it was a very winnable case, and something I would have loved to take on. But fighting it alone against an army of lawyers and unlimited funds … the prospects were not that good.”
Island Smokes was one of a number of “roll-your-own” shops that have opened up across the country in recent years to take advantage of a perceived loophole in state and federal tax laws.
The stores sold cigarettes at drastically reduced prices — sometimes as little as $4 for a pack that could normally cost $13 — because they sold customers loose tobacco, at a tax rate that was just a fraction of the rate set for a commercially made pack.
Patrons were then directed to machines in the store, which converted the loose tobacco into finished cigarettes. At Island Smokes locations, the machines were relatively slow, turning out a carton in about 45 minutes, but some roll-your-own stores have high-speed rollers capable of churning out a carton of 200 cigarettes in about eight minutes.
New York City officials had argued in a lawsuit filed in late November that the shops were engaged in tax evasion and violation of laws requiring every pack of cigarettes sold to carry a state tax stamp.
“The success of this lawsuit should serve as a reminder to others thinking of ‘gimmicks’ to skirt New York City’s tough cigarette laws that the City will enforce those laws vigorously,” the city’s top lawyer, Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, said in a written statement.
City officials said that in recent weeks it has identified other roll-your-own shops that have recently opened, and sent them letters threatening them with legal action as well.
Similar legal fights involving the same types of shops are ongoing in several states, including West Virginia, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

2011 in Review: Local Tobacco Issues

NATO executive director looks at issues that have affected retailers at the local level this year.
In 2011, there has been an increase in local governments considering ordinances to further regulate tobacco products, restrict tobacco advertising and impose new local excise taxes on tobacco products. Aside from budget deficits prompting proposals to raise excise taxes, there are two main reasons why local governments have been pursuing more restrictive laws and higher taxes on tobacco products.
First, Section 916 of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (the law enacted in 2009 that authorized the FDA to regulate cigarettes, roll-your-own and smokeless tobacco products) specifically states that local governments may “enact, adopt, promulgate, and enforce any law, rule, regulation, or other measure…prohibiting the sale, distribution, possession, exposure to, access to, advertising and promotion of, or use of tobacco products by individuals of any age….” While local governments have always had this implied authority to enact such restrictions, including outright prohibition, the FDA law essentially sanctioned the ability of cities and counties to consider and adopt such regulations and restrictions.
Second, the federal stimulus program passed by Congress and signed into law by President in 2009 included hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funds, being disbursed by such agencies as the Centers for Disease Control. The purpose of these federal grants to local governments is to support adoption of tobacco control measures, obesity awareness programs and other wellness efforts. That is, federal taxpayer dollars are being used by local governments to fund passage of ordinances to regulate and restrict legal tobacco products.
A summary of the major local issues that NATO has been involved in during 2011 are as follows:
Linn County, Iowa sought to adopt an ordinance to ban the sale of dissolvable products and prohibit “buy-one, get-one-free” promotions. The ordinance did not pass.
Worcester, Mass., became the first city to pass an ordinance banning all outdoor and in-store tobacco advertising. NATO, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Philip Morris USA and Lorillard Tobacco Company filed a lawsuit against the city, seeking to overturn the ordinance on First Amendment free speech grounds. A summary judgment motion hearing was held in federal district court on September 8th and a ruling from the judge should be issued soon.
The Philadelphia Board of Health is considering an ordinance to require that graphic image warning signs be placed at each register in retail stores that sell tobacco products. NATO has submitted legal comments to the Philadelphia Board of Health regarding how such a mandate violates constitutional First Amendment free speech protections. And NATO President Andy Kerstein, along with another retailer, testified against the ordinance. Just after a federal district court judge issued a temporary restraining order on November 7th against the FDA’s graphic image cigarette warnings, a copy of the judge’s ruling was sent to the Philadelphia Board of Health since the board is considering essentially the same kind of graphic image requirement. As this point, the Philadelphia Board of Health has not taken any action on the proposed sign ordinance.
The Danville, Va., city council considered adopting a local cigarette tax and tobacco product tax. NATO Board of Director Frank Armstrong and one of his store staff members testified against the proposed taxes. The cigarette and other tobacco product (OTP) taxes were not adopted.
The Boston Public Health Commission passed an ordinance on December 1st that bans single cigar sales, and also requires that cigars be sold in a manufacturer’s package of at least four cigars. The ordinance does allow a retailer to sell a single cigar that has a wholesale price of more than $2 or a retail price of more than $2.50. Also, the ordinance doubled the fines on retailers that violate the ordinance. NATO sent legal comments to Public Health Commission members, opposing the cigar sales restriction and objecting to the doubling of retail violation fines.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners in Illinois passed a budget on November 18th that included new taxes on cigarettes produced by retailers using roll-your-own (RYO) machines and on RYO tobacco, smokeless tobacco and cigars. The new taxes are as follows:
A tax of $.10 per cigarette on cigarettes produced by retailers operating roll-your-own machines.
Through December 31, 2012, the following taxes apply:
RYO and smokeless tobacco: $.30 per ounce of fraction thereof.

  • Little cigars: $.05 per unit or cigar.
  • Large cigars: $.25 per unit or cigar.

Effective January 1, 2013, the following taxes apply:
RYO and smokeless tobacco: $.60 per ounce of fraction thereof.

  • Little cigars: $.05 per unit or cigar.
  • Large cigars: $.30 per unit or cigar.

NATO opposed these new taxes with legal comments sent to the board of commissioners, activating not only NATO members, but also urging non-member retailers to contact their elected board members to oppose these new taxes.
By Thomas A

Tobacco committee met establish strategy

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) in its pursuit to align itself with WHO/Frame Work Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requirement has sanctioned the establishment of a tobacco taskforce committee, whose role and responsibility is to overseer the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all tobacco free initiatives taken place in the country.
On the 6th December 2011 at the Quality Motel, the committee has met to formalize strategy for compilation of the 2010 – 2011 FCTC report.
Solomon Islands have sign in as a member the WHO/FCTC on 18th June 2004 and rectified it on the 10TH August 2010. Under the FCTC requirement each party will be obligated to provide report and exchange of information to the conference of the parties, through the Secretariat periodic report on its implementation of the this Convention.
The periodic report should cover information on legislation, appropriate or constrain encountered in the implementation of the convention, financial and technical assistance to advance tobacco control, surveillance and research and other information specified in Article 6.3. 13.2, 13.3, 13.4, 15.5, and 19.2.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. The WHO FCTC is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.
The WHO FCTC represents a paradigm shift in developing a regulatory strategy to address addictive substances; in contrast to previous drug control treaties, the WHO FCTC asserts the importance of demand reduction strategies as well as supply issues.
The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. The spread of the tobacco epidemic is facilitated through a variety of complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalization and direct foreign investment.
Other factors such as global marketing, transnational tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the international movement of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes have also contributed to the explosive increase in tobacco use.
The core demand reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are contained in articles 6-14:
• Price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, and
• Non-price measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, namely:

  1. Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke;
  2. Regulation of the contents of tobacco products;
  3. Regulation of tobacco product disclosures;
  4. Packaging and labeling of tobacco products;
  5. Education, communication, training and public awareness;
  6. Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship;
  7. Demand reduction measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation.

The core supply reduction provisions in the WHO FCTC are contained in articles 15-17:
Illicit trade in tobacco products;
Sales to and by minors; and,
Provision of support for economically viable alternative activities.
The tobacco taskforce committee is made up of reputable individual form the MHMS and other stakeholders chaired by Dr Cedric Alependava, Under Secretary for Health Improvement.

Cigarette debris plagues the campus

Let’s admit it, we are so fortunate to be students here at Saddleback College with the superb administration, exceptional professors, abundance of student resources, and a clean environment.
Unfortunately there is one issue that I have been observing here at Saddleback over a period of time, and that issue is the excess cigarette butt litter all over campus.
I’m sure every student has seen them. They cover our floors, planters, benches, lawns, tables, and are even abundant in our bathrooms.
The area most plagued by this debris is right outside of the Business/General Studies building. Many students gather in this area between classes to study, snack, socialize, or smoke a cigarette.
The problem with this is that many of the smokers in this area are not disposing of their cigarette butts properly. Just looking at this field of cigarette butts is disgusting.
The ethics behind the litter is my greatest concern. Are we, as current students, setting a good example for incoming students to our college? Are we expecting the staff at Saddleback to pick up our mess? And what does this say about the way we carry ourselves outside of academia?
These questions don’t need to be answered here, but should guide us in moving forward. On November 23, 2011, I organized a team of four to take action. Patrick Dobson, Jeffrey Whitridge, Bart Piwczynski and I decided to clean up the cigarette butts around the BGS building and in the quad.
We wanted to leave an impression on people, so we created fliers that asked students “What are you contributing to?” with before and after photos of the areas, and then posted them around the BGS building.
As I prepare to end my journey here at saddleback and make my way into the UC system, I felt compelled to give back to Saddleback for all the wonderful education that was provided for me. I feel that my experiences here at Saddleback have helped me become a responsible person.
I hope that the students will begin to dispose of their cigarettes properly, and that they will motivate others to continue this legacy of a clean and respectable campus.
By Giuseppe Cefalu

Stricter indicators on tobacco products

The Union Health Department’s notification which stipulates clear display of warning signs on tobacco products came into force on Saturday. The notification, issued on May 27, calls for separate warnings for smoking and non-smoking tobacco products.
For tobacco products used for smoking, the image displayed should be of cancer in the mouth or in the lungs. For non-smoking products, cancer on the neck and mouth should be displayed.
Over 40 per cent of the space on the front side of the packet should be allocated for the warnings. Apart from this, messages must be displayed both in the language written on the packet and in the local language. ‘Smoking Kills’ in the case of tobacco products used for smoking and ‘Tobacco Kills’, on non-smoking tobacco products must be clearly displayed.
The tobacco products without proper display of these warning signals will be seized, Narcotics Cell assistant commissioner Joseph Saju, who heads the District Tobacco Control Squad, said. He also requested the shop owners and traders not to sell tobacco products without the aforesaid warnings.
Tobacco products with horrifying pictures on cancer will serve as warning for people, members of Kerala Voluntary Health Services, who have been steering the campaign, said.

Tobacco Companies Think Their Trademarks Are More Important Than Your Health

Back in January of this year, Techdirt reported on tobacco companies suing a local Australian importer of their products for covering up part of their logos with a mandatory health warning. At the time, a spokeswoman for the company involved, British American Tobacco, said:
As the matter is currently before the Court, BAT is unable to comment other than to say that this is a further demonstration that we will take all necessary steps to protect our valuable intellectual property.
Given that stance, it will come as no surprise to learn that tobacco companies are now threatening to take on the European Commission as well:
EU Health Commissioner John Dalli will face legal action if he tries to reproduce Australia’s plain-packaging proposals for cigarettes in Europe, a tobacco industry representative warned this week.
The approach is the same as in Australia:
One likely focus of attack is intellectual property rights, since plain packaging has a smothering effect on companies’ logos and trademarks.
I’d like to think that the word “smothering” was taken verbatim from some tobacco company representative, because it sums up nicely the industry’s attitude: that any breathing difficulties or respiratory diseases that you may develop as the result of smoking pale into insignificance compared with the outrageous “smothering” of their logos and trademarks.
That’s a particularly callous attitude, because those logos and trademarks are only valuable to the degree they have been attached to products that have caused death and disease: the “best” brands are those with a track record of selling – and hence killing – more people than rival products. In effect, the tobacco companies are complaining that all their hard work getting people addicted and smoking themselves to death will be wasted if the plain-packaging proposals for cigarettes are implemented.
The cynical posturing of tobacco firms as the victims in these continuing attempts to undo and avoid the social harm they cause underlines once more how easily intellectual monopolies can be twisted for purposes far from any original justification they may once have had. Patents can kill: so, it seems will trademarks, if tobacco companies get their way.

Tobacco giant launches plain packaging challenge

British American Tobacco has launched its promised constitutional challenge in the High Court against the Federal Government’s plain packaging laws for cigarettes.
On the same day the legislation received royal assent, paperwork was submitted with the High Court.
BAT is arguing the legislation is unconstitutional and invalid because the Government is attempting to acquire valuable intellectual property used to identify tobacco brands without compensation.
No date for the hearing of the case has been set.
Company spokesperson Scott McIntyre says BAT is a legal company selling a legal product.
“We have consistently said we will defend our valuable intellectual property on behalf of our shareholders as any other company would,” he said in a statement.
“If the same type of legislation was introduced for a beer-brewing company or a fast food chain, then they’d be taking the Government to court and we’re no different.
“We believe the laws are unconstitutional and invalid, and we’re obviously confident enough that we are pursuing it in the High Court.”
Mr McIntyre says the High Court proceedings will be conducted as a test case on the validity of the plain packaging laws in relation to two BAT brands, Winfield and Dunhill cigarettes.
“Obviously we’d rather not be in a situation where we’re forced to take the Government to court, but unfortunately for taxpayers the Government has taken us down the legal path,” he said.
Health minister Nicola Roxon says the challenge proves tobacco companies cannot give up their addiction to legal action.
“They have fought governments tooth and nail around the world for decades to stop tobacco control,” she said in a statement.
“Let there be no mistake, big tobacco is fighting against the Government for one very simple reason – because it knows, as we do, that plain packaging will work.
“While it is fighting to protect its profits, we are fighting to protect lives.”
The executive director of QUIT, Fiona Sharkie, says the challenge has little chance of winning.
“The legal opinion is very clearly on the side of the Government,” she said.
“We believe that this is just again a tactic to use up government money, taxpayer funds, in expensive court cases for something that has little chance of success.”
Last month Philip Morris also flagged it would take legal action, saying it would seek a suspension on the plain packaging laws as well as compensation for the loss of trademarks.
Federal Parliament passed the legislation on November 21 with minor amendments to the start date.
The laws are due to come into effect in December next year.
They ban the use of company logos and require all cigarette packets to be a dark green colour.
Pictures of diseased body parts, sickly babies and dying people will cover 75 per cent of each packet, and tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text will be banned.
Since it was announced in 2010, the plan has faced fierce opposition from tobacco companies.
Australia is the first country to introduce plain packaging.