Plain packaging passes High Court hurdle

Plain Packaging

On August 15 the Australian High Court decreed that the federal government is granted a right to demand that cigarettes are sold in plain packaging beginning with December, according to a local media.

In fact plain packaging is packaging created under the authority of the government to be as unappealing as is possible. The larger half of plain packaging consists of graphic health warnings and a standardized olive color at a little background. There are no logos, but name of brand is presented only in a small, standardized font.

The attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, said that the decision of the court was approved by all those families who had negative experiences with tobacco.

The Australian Associated Press reported a quote of British American Tobacco Australia that said it accepted the court’s decision, but declared that the law was not so good and would lead to a hike in illegal cigarette sales.

There is a note on the BAT’s website presenting three key legal argument of the High Court:

– that items including logos, copyright, designs, patents, goodwill, physical products and packaging constitute property;

– that plain packaging law would see BAT missing any right to this property; and

– that a related profit had been passed on to the Australian government as a result.

There was written in the note that the decision of the Australian High Court did not have a full written judgement pointing the rationale for their decision.

As well the note said that the company, which produces popular Dunhill and Lucky Strike cigarettes, is disillusioned by the decision of the Court and it is still assured that the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act is not only a bad law, but that it is one that will have many unexpected effects for years to come.

Besides, this decision is fully separate from the various other investment and trade-related debates which Australia is now facing owing to implementing the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act. The question is about Australia’s World Trade Organization debate with Honduras, Dominican Republic and Ukraine, and the claim Australia is experiencing for breaking its Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.

BAT respect any form of evidence-based legislation but there is no evidence that plain packaging of tobacco products will bring positive effects in discouraging youth to take up smoking or encouraging smoking cessation by current smokers.

‘Indeed, plain packaging would only strengthen an already big illicit tobacco problem, and would have other essential negative unexpected effects including decreasing prices which would lead to increased smoking while reducing government tax earnings.’

British American Tobacco will continue to assume necessary measures to protect their valuable tobacco brands and their right to participate in global markets as a legitimate commercial business dealing with the sale of a legal product, based on the full legal use of their intellectual property rights.

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