A historic result was recorded this month in Australia when its top court rejected a bid by some of the world’s largest tobacco companies to overturn a law requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging. The plain packaging law, which was introduced in Australia last year, requires cigarettes to be sold in dark packages free from logos and colour, but featuring graphic images of smoking related diseases. Brand names can appear, but only in a standardised font and size.
Tobacco companies, including Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, argued that the law was unconstitutional and breached intellectual property rights, but the court rejected their appeal. Government representatives including the Australian Health Minister welcomed the decision, saying it was a victory for all those who have lost relatives to tobacco-related diseases. Packages, they said, will no longer act as mobile advertisements for the tobacco industry.
The ruling was closely watched by observers in the EU and UK, where plain packaging legislation is currently being discussed in connection of the long-awaited update of the EU tobacco products directive.