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Australian High Court Dismisses Plain Packaging Challenge

Published on Aug 15 2012 2:42 PM in Packaging And Design

Australian High Court Dismisses Plain Packaging Challenge

The Australian High Court today (15 Aug) dismissed a legal challenge from four global cigarette companies in a landmark case against new anti-tobacco marketing laws. From 1 December, all cigarettes and tobacco products sold in Australia must carry uniform olive green packaging with graphic health warnings and a small space for the brand name and variant.

British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris challenged the plain packaging legislation, declaring it unconstitutional and an ‘acquisition of property', claiming that tobacco companies would effectively be stripped of their intellectual property without compensation, resulting in a 'related benefit' being passed on to the Australian government.

Under the new legislation, graphic images of cancerous lungs, mouth and lung cancer and children affected by their parent's smoking will feature on the front of all cigarette packages sold in Australia. Brand logos will be banned and the space for labelling will be limited, with some saying that it will be difficult to distinguish the brands from one another.

Tobacco giant British American Tobacco said the company will "continue to take every action necessary to protect our valuable brands and our right to compete in global markets as a legitimate commercial business selling a legal product, based on the full legal use of our intellectual property rights."

The introduction of plain packaging legislation is in line with World Health Organisation recommendations and the case puts a stop to any further domestic Australian challenges to the laws. As a possible precedent for other countries, industry analysts are concerned that similar plain packaging laws could be introduced in other countries, threatening sales. In Europe, Britain and Norway are considering instigating similar measures to combat smoking.

In a statement, the court said: “At least a majority of the court is of the opinion that the Act is not contrary to (Australia’s constitution).” The full judgement is expected to be made available at a later date.

According to Bloomberg, neighbouring country New Zealand could follow Australia in move toward plain packaging. (16 Aug)

© 2012 - ESM: European Supermarket Magazine

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