A WEEK after the High Court's decision to uphold the world's first plain packaging laws for cigarettes, Australia's first female Attorney-General Nicola Roxon is back in her Gellibrand electorate opening a Newport primary school's new learning spaces.
Sacred Heart Primary School used $2.25 million of federal government Building the Education Revolution funding to develop a new library learning centre and grade5 and 6 learning areas.
Taking on Big Tobacco in the form of four of the world's biggest cigarette makers was something Ms Roxon did mainly for children not yet addicted to cigarettes and for those who had lost a loved one to smoking-related cancer.
When she was 10, Ms Roxon's father died from oesophageal cancer.
Jack Roxon was a smoker.
From December 1, all cigarettes will be sold in olive-green packs without trademarks and with larger health warning graphics.
Last week's legal victory was "a rare one of those moments where the success is very satisfying," Ms Roxon said in an interview with the Weekly.
"Of course, if it means that some families don't lose a family member too early then that's suffering that I would be happy to have helped prevent."
But banning tobacco altogether is not something the government is looking at.
"I think if it was a new product we were discovering now but we knew everything about tobacco that we now know, it would be banned," Ms Roxon said.
"But when you live in a free democratic country you've got to make change gradually.
"I was heartened when I was health minister that primary schoolchildren wrote to me every day saying why don't we ban it, and I would always write back and say that might be something your generation should pursue.
"This has been a very big fight to get to this stage, but I think it might be something that future generations will take on and good luck to them."
Ms Roxon said new research showed that of the current smokers, 80per cent became addicted before age 19.
"I think the main aim is that we try to stop people getting addicted to start with so we're trying to take away any extra reason that a young person, in particular, might take up smoking.
"We don't want the packet to be attractive to young girls. We don't want the macho imagery that might attract young men.
"We don't want people to think that some of the colours suggest that some types of cigarettes are lighter or may be better for you."
The battle is not over yet, with Australia now facing a World Trade Organisation challenge over its law from Dominican Republic, Honduras and Ukraine. "It's clear that this is a very controversial decision in Ukraine, a country we have virtually no trade with," Ms Roxon said.
"The three countries that have so far expressed an interest are small countries with no particular trade relationship with Australia."
The Australian Retailers Association expects the plain-packaging move will cost the industry $500million in lost productivity.
Association spokesman Russel Zimmerman said transaction times would blow out because cigarette packets would look almost identical.
He said the new laws "simply make things difficult" for retailers.
- With Nick Toscano