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Australia bans tobacco branding


08-16-2012 10:54 BJT

Australia has upheld tough new anti-tobacco marketing law. It’s the first time tobacco companies will be banned from putting their logos and branding on cigarette packets.This is what smokers in Australia will be looking at from December.

No branding No logos.Just graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking. Nicola Roxon, Australian Attorney General,said, "The importance of the decision today is that governments can take on "big tobacco" and win" .

On Wednesday, Australia’s high court stabbed out the claim from tobacco companies that the world’s first ever laws banning branding on cigarette packets were unconstitutional. It also ordered them to cough up the government’s legal costs. Jonathan Liberman,director of McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer said, "the only way to deal with tobacco industry’s claims, sabre rattling, legal threats is to stare them down in court.

It’s a fantastic decision for public health in Australia and globally." A decision that has the Big Tobacco fuming. Scott McIntyre,spokesman of British American Tobacco, said, "We still believe it’s a very bad law. And there’s a number of serious unintended consequences that will now flow on from the 1st of December".

Tobacco companies warn cheap counterfeit cigarettes will now flood the market and smoking rates will actually increase. Australia’s health minister disagrees: Tanya Plibersek,Australian Health Minister, said, "There are all sorts of counterfeiting operations going on.

They’re pretty sophisticated. The fact that this packaging looks like this now doesn’t make it easier to counterfeit" But on the streets of Sydney, the ruling got a mixed reaction.

"It might discourage people but then the question is people who are addicted to smoking: are they really addicted to packaging or cigarette itself".

"There’s not much difference to be honest. At the end of the day, they are still selling the cigarettes". But supporters hope the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.

The Australian government still faces two other legal challenges, claiming its breached international trade rules - which could result in huge compensation payouts. But the eyes of the world are watching. And if Australia succeeds, many others are considering following suit.

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