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.

Start Quote

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”

End Quote

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
    +5

    Comment number 731.

    @699.Gary: "Whatever side of the fence you sit on, most children start smoking because it's taboo..."

    In today's bling-bling world, that means a fewer number of kids will become curious about "that bright packet on the shelf". Even if somking rate drops by 1%, it is an achievement intself. This is one of the few cases where moral concern has triumphed over money.

  • Comment number 730.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 729.

    725.farkyss
    "Doesn't require legislation, just requires businesses making such entrances no-smoking zones"

    There are notices up at my supermarket saying not to smoke within 10m of the entrence.
    Both sides have rights, but both sides need to accept the other has too and work to a solution.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 728.

    On the McDonald / burger issue, I went into one of their outlets recently at lunchtime, first time in years. It was about 300 metres from a big school and as I sat there I watched a stady stream of school kids walking in and buying burgers, fries, cokes, etc. And some of the kids were on the large side too. It can't be right they can sell this processed, high salt, high fat stuff to kids

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 727.

    721.If
    I do worry that it is really personal freedom that is being eroded here and wonder who the next target is!"

    Part of me cant wait, i want to see what happens at that "first they came for the jews and i didnt speak out because i wasnt a jew...
    ...then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me" point

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 726.

    Post 723.
    So why is it that if I buy a pack of Camels in the U.S. they sometimes go out in the ashtray, whilst one bought in the UK burns away like a firework. Tell me from 'personal experience' please.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 725.

    @717.Mrs B
    You understand wrong. Don't feel bad about it though, you're a victim of propoganda.

    You cannot include sickness benefits and house fires UNLESS you also include savings from reduced life expectancy and the positive impact on the economy from tobocco sales.

    @722.Mayna
    Doesn't require legislation, just requires businesses making such entrances no-smoking zones.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 724.

    I find it unbelievable just how far certain pious and pontificating people, groups and holier than thou MP's will go in an effort to try and stop people enjoying themselves.

    I suggest the Australian people should look long and hard at such people who brought in such laws and then ask themselves which of these things are the biggest threat to their way of life, The Fags or the Policy makers! ?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 723.

    706 Hardly original, it is a lift from the argument against plain packs that counterfeiters and criminals could simply do just that in a plain pack.
    From personal experience the cigarette makers are extremely careful with anything near their product that might poison their customers or affect the product - it is v difficult keeping a straight face in such discussions.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 722.

    716.farkyss
    "Your hypothetical situation never arises. Smoking is already banned in all public buildings and workplaces"

    Not true, take a look at all the smokers standing under the canopy at the entry to a super market. The smoke lingers and can be tasted in the air as we walk in. Unless we discuss these things how can each side see the others view.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 721.

    I have never smoked and consider it a disgusting habit.
    But I cannot help feeling that there is something very wrong with this legislation.
    To smoke or to not to smoke is a personal choice.
    There is enough information on present packaging to allow consumers to make an informed decision.
    I do worry that it is really personal freedom that is being eroded here and wonder who the next target is !!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 720.

    Smoking can have health benefits - it cures kippers.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 719.

    717.Mrs B
    The wider related costs, from sickness benefit to the costs of dealing with house fires caused by dropped fags rather exceed the revenue coming in, I understand.
    -----------

    All those 'wider related costs' are speculative at best, there is no definitive scores; FMA numbers made up to push an agenda. I say the wider related costs are less - both have the same validity.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 718.

    It's a great law.It will make teens think twice before they go to buy their first ugly green packet of cancer sticks.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 717.

    Hi Jon D 612, that figure you have quoted is from 1998. It is now 2012. The direct costs to the NHS of smoking is around £5.2 billion p.a., The wider related costs, from sickness benefit to the costs of dealing with house fires caused by dropped fags rather exceed the revenue coming in, I understand.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 716.

    @710.Mayna

    Your hypothetical situation never arises. Smoking is already banned in all public buildings and workplaces.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 715.

    I love it! Yay, Australia! Kick those beeping tobacco companies in the teeth!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 714.

    Personally, I would rather be in the presence of someone who smokes too much anyday,than in the presence of someone who drinks (alcohol) too much Apart from the smell , the persons loss of co-ordination and reasoning , is not only unpleasant but also extremely dangerous especially so, if they have access to a vehicle !

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 713.

    Before you reach for the negative button ...
    Where does this stop? alcohol in plain bags, sweets under the counter, speed govenors on cars, no sharp things for OAPs, no HYS for the over fifties?
    Yes, we know smoking kills but this North Korean dictat is narrow minded and ill conceived.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 712.

    @709. Yes let's do that. Remove one legally addictive substance and add another one that's proven to be just as addictive AND health damaging. Nice.

 

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