Tobacco Giants Outraged by Australian Plain Packaging Law

May 10th, 2010 00:00

Major cigarette companies have been devastated by the bill requiring generic cigarette packaging approved by the Australian government and prepare to challenge the excessive bill in court.

Last week Kevin Rudd, Australian Prime Minister declared the government has adopted two measures aimed at reducing smoking rates – a 25-percent in cigarette taxes and a ban on the usage of colors and images on cigarette packs.

While the increase in cigarette tax took into effect almost immediately after the approval, the plain packaging bill will come into legal force on July 1st, 2012.

Australian Plain Packaging

It is hard to believe that in two years the smokers will not be seeing the legendary red-and-white Marlboro chevron, or landmark Lucky Strike logo, as Australia is set to become the first country across the world to prohibit all the brand-related images and graphics on cigarette packs.

From July 1st, 2012, cigarette makers will have to pack their cigarette brands in the generic packages lacking any colors, logos and other images; instead the package should bear large and bold health warnings, and brand name written in small letters.

According to the officials, the measures would reduce smoking across the nation and bring multi-billion revenues, which would be used to fund various public health programs. The measures have already been applauded by the World Health Organization, which named them as the gold standard for tobacco control.

By approving the measures Australia becomes the world’s forerunner in the war against tobacco consumption. Major tobacco companies opposed the plain packaging bill stating it would eliminate brand identification and some of them admitted to consider legal challenge.

Imperial Tobacco Australia spokesperson stated that the bill eliminates the ability of an adult smoker to identify the products offered by one company from the products offered by another company, so the company was considering filing a lawsuit.

British American Tobacco Australia as well said they were against the generic packaging and would be planning a legal action to protect their intellectual property granted by the international conventions on trademark protection and commercial free-speech. The company is also planning on demanding compensation from the Australian government for the seizure of their intellectual property.

Philip Morris International refused to comment on whether the company was considering a legal actions, but stated that plain packaging bill would be an illegal expropriation of their trademarks and a huge offence of the Australian commitments to international treaties.

Cigarette sellers were as well upset with the measures saying, it would dramatically affect their sales and contribute to the further growth of black market. In addition the plain packages would also be an easy target for the counterfeiters, stated Mick Daly, president of Australian store chain IGA.

Prime Minister Rudd refuted allegations that the latest movements were a purely political decision, by saying that the measures come tough on the government since they are unpopular but would definitely benefit the public health in the end.

Advertising and marketing of tobacco products in the Internet will as well be severely limited, and additional $28 million will be passed on funding nationwide smoking-prevention campaigns.

By Steve Shepherd, Staff Writer. Copyright © 2010 Cigarette-Store.biz. All rights reserved.

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