Australia cigarette plain packaging law upheld by court


Australia's new cigarette packaging rules have put big manufacturers against the government

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Australia's highest court has upheld a new government law on mandatory packaging for cigarettes that removes brand colours and logos from packaging.

The law requires cigarettes to be sold in olive green packets, with graphic images warning of the consequences of smoking.

Leading global tobacco manufacturers, including British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, had challenged the law.

The new packaging rules are scheduled to be implemented from 1 December 2012.

"At least a majority of the court is of the opinion that the Act is not contrary to (Australia's constitution)," the court said in a brief statement.

The full judgement is expected to be published on a later date.

'Still a bad law'

The law was passed by the government last year. Authorities have said that plain packaging of cigarettes will help reduce the number of smokers in the country.

An example of what cigarette packets in Australia may look like Australian cigarette packets may soon look like this

However, tobacco manufacturers have argued that removing their brand names and company colours from packets will lead to a drastic cut in profits.

They have also warned that it may result in fake products entering the market.

"It's still a bad law that will only benefit organised crime groups which sell illegal tobacco on our streets," said Scott McIntyre, spokesman for British American Tobacco (BAT) Australia.

Sonia Stewart, spokesperson for Imperial Tobacco, added that "the legislation will make the counterfeiters' job both cheaper and easier by mandating exactly how a pack must look".

Cigarette manufacturers have also claimed that the law is unconstitutional and infringes on their intellectual property rights by banning the use of brands and trademarks.

However, BAT's Mr McIntyre said the firms will comply with the new rules.

"Even though we believe the government has taken our property from us, we'll ensure our products comply with the plain packaging requirements and implementation dates."

'Deluge of legislation'

Australia's new tough packaging laws are the first of their kind to be implemented in the world.

However, many other countries such as New Zealand, India, the UK and even some states in the US have been contemplating taking similar measures in a bid to reduce the number of smokers.

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Whilst Australia might be a relatively small cigarette market, tobacco companies know that losing here could lead to a deluge of legislation elsewhere in their really big markets”

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As a result, the case between the government and the cigarette makers was being watched closely all across the globe.

Jonathan Liberman, director of the McCabe Center for Law and Cancer, said the ruling was likely to give a boost to other countries looking to take similar steps.

"It shows to everybody that the only way to deal with the tobacco industry's claims, sabre rattling and legal threats is to stare them down in court," he said.

The BBC's Sydney correspondent Duncan Kennedy said the decision may have global ramifications for the cigarette makers.

"Whilst Australia might be a relatively small cigarette market, tobacco companies know that losing here could lead to a deluge of legislation elsewhere in their really big markets."

"A smoker's going to smoke regardless of what the package says"


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  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    Rubbish at the Olympics and now this! Australia is turning in to a nation of wimps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    "he only extra thing needed is legislation to prevent smoking in a confined space with a minor"

    Not so sure. A non-smoker could walk into an empty room to find it full of smoke, does that not impinge on that person’s right to be in a smoke free room? Without discussing such things you are right in saying I'm in for a long wait before a workable solution can be found.

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    For those wondering how the government could regain lost tax revenue if people all stopped smoking. Simple. Legalise and tax cannabis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    I think this is a dangerous point to put into law, you start with smokers (and yes I am one), then by definition you have to move to other things like alcohol as it is equally as bad as smoking. Removing a companies right to brand their own product is downright dangerous and governments have to look at the bigger picture - how much tax they raise from it and stop trying to Nanny the population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    Can we also have politicians in plain packaging.

    Not campaign posters of them airbrushed and how they looked ten years ago.

    Politicians kill more than cigarettes or alchohol, they start wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    Post 701. Whether or not it is a ploy that is the most original and valid point on this entire thread in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    "finish point scoring let me know, then maybe a workable solution could be found"

    You may be searching for a long time trying to find a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. The implication therefore is that this constant demonisation of smokers is, in itself, 'the problem'. The only extra thing needed is legislation to prevent smoking in a confined space with a minor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    692. farkyss

    You will die very quickly (days) without H2O. You will become sick if you have no access to sunlight. Too much of either will be detrimental and sometime fatal but both are necessities of life and health in a broad range of quantities. Nicotine and smoke are not necessities of life or health. In even modest amounts they are highly detrimental to both.

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    You are now drawing and arbitrary line between carcinogenic and harm and another arbitrary line on level of addictiveness. As your argument is no longer a matter of principle but degree and judment, it is easy to argue that tabbacco falls on either side of your line. You don't have to be harmed, simply make a choice not to be in the pressence of smokers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    Congratulations to the High Court and to Lady Julia.
    Things to do.
    *Get rid of all direct and indirect subsidies to the tobacco industry, including growing the stuff.
    *Tax tobacco at a level high enough to cover its health costs. That will increase the retail price by about 3 to 5.
    My father died only 53 years old when I was 15 because he smoked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    This is a ploy by tobacco companies to eliminate any future competition.
    By preventing any new brand from being seen, they can have a monopoly over the market.
    which means that they can now put even more crap into the cigarettes because they now have no ingredients or information, and there won't be any un-tampered alternatives.
    Good going idiots!

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    686.Hugh Jarse
    Junk food is addictive - the fats and sugars in chocolate are what makes tt addictive and things like MDonalds can be as addictive as some narcotics.
    One could argue that a parent addicted to junk food, would feed their kids junk food too, so the relevance is there.
    FYI a lot of smokers smoke outside, even at home - 2nd hand smoke is a lot less prevalent these days

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    Whatever side of the fence you sit on, most children start smoking because it's taboo...not because of the brand or colour of packaging.

    This whole argument continues to embed the 'wrongness' of smoking which further encourages children, those testing boundaries, to participate.

    A similar argument surrounds them being locked away in just encourages those who want to rebel!

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    When the anti & the smokers finish point scoring let me know, then maybe a workable solution could be found.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    I'm an ex-smoker, giving up some 31 years ago because I wanted to, not because someone told me to. I don't feel self-rightous and don't feel I have the right to insist that others do as I did. We're supposed to have freedom: that freedom allows us to to make decisions that are both unwise and which others don't approve of

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    I don't see the argument regarding counterfeits as it is possible to add to the packaging to show it is genuine without branding for example a hologram or similar... It will be interesting to see the impact on smoking demand and particularly those starting for the first time, if it's positive I can see widespread roll out of this (in countries where politicians are not in debt to lobbyists anyway)

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.


    As a GP , told a neighbour of mine, "nictotine patches to help you stop smoking , no, no, budgets won't allow us to issue nicotine patches. Anyway , what do want to stop smoking for you'll just end up getting obese " - True story !

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    @678 "... or am i stereo typing ?"

    Difficult to tell from here, are you using two keyboards?

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    Hey reformed smokers - remember some of the brands we used to love you can't get any more? John Player Blue?Embassy No 6? Do they still do Rothmans? What fags they were. (Remember the ad 'When you know what you're doing) And how about Slim Kings (Make it a long weekend.) How about those Carlton that you could get 200 of in a big pink drum!

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    @687.Derpsworth @688
    "FTFY *Dihydrogen monoxide"

    Quickly! Ban that too!

    Solar Radiation causes skin cancer and vast droughts killing millions worldwide! We need to stop this evil scourge and ban Solar Radiation, or at the very least start taxing people's supply of this dangerous substance, while banning advertising of it, and criminalise those seeking it!


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