Australian health minister attacks cigarette "kiddie packs"

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SYDNEY -- Cigarette manufacturer Rothmans of Pall Mall (Austria) Ltd is under attack from the Federal Minister of Health, Dr Michael Wooldridge, for marketing a controversial new brand, "slimline Holiday 20s", dubbed "kiddie packs" by anti- smoking groups which claim that the brand appeals to young people.

The new pack with thinner cigarettes was launched July 1 and costs $2.20 or just 11 cents a cigarette, compared with a normal Holiday 50s pack price of $6.75, or 13.5 cents a cigarette. But Gary Krelle, Rothmans' chief executive, refutes the criticism, saying the product is aimed at adults who smoke about 20 cigarettes a day.

Dr Wooldridge said it was "unconscionable" of Australian tobacco companies "to take any further steps in areas where they have agreed to cease discriminatory marketing practices in the United States ... targeting teenagers is highly irresponsible and reprehensible".

The smaller Holiday pack, says Anne Jones, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health , "is the same price as a Big Mac, and we often measure cigarette prices in terms of Big Macs because it's a good affordability index."

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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