Retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has slammed the federal government for its proposed tobacco laws.

Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon has suggested the design and legislation for plain packaging on cigarette packages as part of tougher anti-smoking laws.

Roxon said the legislation will restrict tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text appearing on packs. Health warnings will also be updated and increased from 30 per cent to 75 per cent of the front of the pack, as well as 90 per cent of the back.

However, ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said under current and scheduled state tobacco display laws, the proposed plain packaging is unnecessary and only duplicates the regulatory burden and associated costs for retailers.

“Like retail display bans, plain packaging is likely to significantly increase the time taken to complete a transaction including the sale of tobacco products. Regulations that increase transaction times have been estimated to cost businesses up to half a billion dollars, equivalent to 15,000 jobs,” he said.

“Increased transaction times also often lead to ‘retail rage’ at the checkouts which is a health and safety concern for retail employees, particularly young workers.

“There is also a real danger of an increased use of illegal tobacco as a result of plain packaging legislation making counterfeiting and smuggling easier. Illicit trade results in retailers losing up to $35 million in profits and government losing over $600 million in revenues per annum.”

The federal government plans for the legislation to commence on 1 January 2012, with all products on sale required to comply with the new laws within six months.