Australian Court Backs Plain Cigarette Pack Law
The highest court in Australia has upheld a new government law which requires all cigarette packaging to be devoid of all colors, branding and logos. This new law will come into force on 1st December of this year and will see all ciggie packets a drab olive green color and sport some incredibly graphic health warnings.
The Australian government has also urged other countries to adopt similar rules, with the hope that the new packs will make smoking seen as unglamorous and unattractive as possible. "Many other countries around the world ... will take heart from the success of this decision today," Australian attorney general Nicola Roxon told reporters a short time after the court ruling, adding "Governments can take on big tobacco and win and it's worth countries looking again at what the next appropriate step is for them." Indeed other countries considering similar packaging rules include Canada, India and the UK.
This new implantation of bland packaging comes on top of a sales display ban already in operation, which stipulates cigarette packs must not be on display in shops and stores, held behind shuttered cupboards.
The leading global tobacco makers including Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco had challenged the law on the grounds that they violate intellectual property rights and devalue their trademarks. The cigarette makers argued that the government would unfairly benefit from the law by using cigarette packs as a platform to promote its own message, without compensating the tobacco companies. Yet, rejected these claims, upheld the government law and also ordered the tobacco companies to pay the government's legal fees.
The major companies, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International are increasingly worried that the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands. Scott McIntyre spokesman for British American Tobacco told how the company was disappointed with the court's decision but would comply with the law. "Although the (law) passed the constitutional test, it's still a bad law that will only benefit organized crime groups which sell illegal tobacco on our streets. ... The illegal cigarette black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy,"Continued on the next page