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 751.

    Smoking, if it doesn't kill you it will cure you...?

    Is camoflauge in fashion at the moment? if so olive green is maybe not such a good choice.

    I sense a bit of disquiet in the olive industry who are not happy that the eat olives live long scenario is being exploited by the tobacco companies...? is this a subtle double bluff? by associating smoking with olives?

    Trust no-one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 750.

    If the UK government were serious about stopping smoking, they could simply pass a law declaring tobacco to be an illegal substance.The same was done for cannabis. Too many vested interests stopping the nettle from being grasped.

  • rate this

    Comment number 749.

    The marketing of cigarettes is a multi-billion dollar industry. Branding is a fantasy projection of 'Joe Camel' and the 'Marlboro Man' --- and it works very well. Cutting the branding and marketing out of cigarettes is certain to have a positive effect by reducing tobacco to what it is: a public menace and health hazard. Good work, Australia!

  • rate this

    Comment number 748.

    This is a great idea, hopefully now all the tobacco companies can close down their marketing departments now and pass the savings onto us poor wretched smokers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 747.

    It won't resolve anything, people will find a way to cover the cigarette packets!

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    (682) (coram-populo-2010)
    Yep the smokers are outside chatting with a ciggie and a coffee several times a day while the rest of us are inside working. Will they stay after 5 to make up the time?

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    I read the posts on this website most days but I sort of feel now is the time I would like to make my first comment. Everyday one group or another is vilified. The UK is so full of hate and frustration that we all want to blame somebody.Everybody pays for the NHS, so therefore everybody has a right to use it. Pull together as a SOCIETY, otherwise our country will fall apart.

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    Please BBC, can we have something interesting to discuss; science, moral issues, faith, culture etc. HYS is a great service, so please use it better and more. Thanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    Japan has the highest percentage of smokers in the industrialised world (almost 40%), the Japanese government owns the Japanese tobacco industry, the Japanese government has sole control of the advertising & packaging of cigarettes.

    Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world...

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    "Then you agree that your particular issue is with your supermarket not enforcing their own policy. Hardly a reason for (more) draconian laws that infringe on people's freedoms."

    Yes & No. If a smoker asks his rights to smoke be respected then that respect must be returned - don't smoke where asked not too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    This is all about smoking prevention which is great. If they can educate people on the dangers of the drug (which in itself isn't bad for you, the 4000 chemicals per cigarette do the damage). Those who currently smoke will hopefully gain a better understanding of the dangers of this drug habit and there is plenty of help out there to get you off this drug.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.


    Then you agree that your particular issue is with your supermarket not enforcing their own policy. Hardly a reason for (more) draconian laws that infringe on people's freedoms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    Youngsters will attempt to do what they see as being cool/mature. Any walking passed my local this evening will see myself and others outside the front enjoying a ciggy and a pint and generally having a good time. This is far more powerful imagery than some packaging and of course would not have been the case before the smoking ban in pubs, as I would have been inside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    I think that it is ridiculous for smokers to whinge about what colour their cigarette packets are-the contents will still be the same cancer sticks they always bought! It will not change the habits of current smokers that are normally loyal to their brand but hopefully it will reduce the uptake of smoking in the next generation. Good Luck Australia-hope it works for you and that others follow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    Do you want to know the way forward, really its not hard you know.
    Go to BAT or other companies, and say right, you only allowed to put this much nicotine in, and gradually reduce the amount over time. ease the nation off of it that way, as well as Education.

  • Comment number 736.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    If ANY government were truly serious about stopping people smoking and were therefore unable to access the revenue smokers contribute to the national coffers, they would instruct the tobacco companies to stop adding nicotine to the tobacco! It's that simple. Nicotine is the addictive ingredient - remove the nicotine and the problem slowly dies out..

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    Well, stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    I'm not sure if there is an afterlife.

    Am interested to see where I end up and also those who work in the tobacco Industry.

    I'd beg for food before I'd sell cigarettes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    After years of smoking I quit and articles such as this don't bother me like they once did ... funny that.


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