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Court upholds the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion

By Transport & Business Express on 15/08/2012

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What is acknowledged to be the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion has been upheld by Australia’s highest court despite protests from tobacco giants such as British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.

Consequently, starting from December this year, tobacco companies operating in Australia will no longer be able to display their distinctive colours, brand designs and logos on cigarette packs. “The packs will instead come in a uniformly drab shade of olive and feature graphic health warnings and images of cancer-riddled mouths, blinded eyeballs and sickly children. The government hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible,” said an Associated Press report reproduced by Yahoo!

Reacting to the August 15 High Court judgement, Australia’s Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said in a joint statement: “This is a victory for all those families who have lost someone to a tobacco-related illness. For anyone who has ever lost someone, this is for you. No longer when a smoker pulls out a packet of cigarettes will that packet be a mobile billboard.”

These photos accompanying this story, show illustrations obtained by the international news agency Reuters of some of the proposed models of cigarettes packs following the court ruling upholding the world’s toughest anti-cigarette marketing laws. The suit is regarded as a major test case for global tobacco companies in their fight against restrictions on the sale of their products.

The verdict may well set off a rash of similar suits across the world.

The judgement has however been faulted by tobacco giants British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International. They argued that the value of their trademarks will be destroyed under new rules that will strip all logos from cigarette packs.

“The companies are worried that the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands. They challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate intellectual property rights and devalue their trademarks,” Associated Press reported.

“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,” the report added.

British American Tobacco spokesman Scott McIntyre said the company was disappointed in 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 organised crime groups which sell illegal tobacco on our streets,” McIntyre said in a statement. “... The illegal cigarette black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy.”

But celebrating the court verdict, Jonathan Liberman, director of the McCabe Center for Law and Cancer, told reporters outside the court that the ruling would inspire other countries to take the same measures against tobacco companies.

“It shows to everybody that the only way to deal with tobacco industry’s claims, saber rattling and legal threats is to stare them down in court,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic decision for public health in Australia,” he added.

*Photo, courtesy Reuters, shows a combination of proposed models of cigarettes packs in view of the court judgement.

Source TBE

Posted 15/08/2012 12:31:12 PM

 

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