"Australia's highest court Wednesday rejected a challenge from big tobacco companies to tough new plain-packaging laws due to come into effect later this year, in a legal battle closely watched around the world," the Wall Street Journal reports, adding, "The ruling is a major blow for global tobacco giants that had been seeking to stop Australia implementing the new laws, fearing the move would set a precedent for other countries to follow" (Curran, 8/14). "Tobacco companies British American Tobacco, Britain's Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco challenged the laws in Australia's high court, claiming the rules were unconstitutional because they effectively extinguished the companies' intellectual property rights," according to the Guardian (8/15). "The law, approved by Parliament last year, requires cigarettes to be sold in drab dark packaging starting in December, without logos but featuring graphic images of smoking-related diseases," the Washington Post writes, adding, "Brand names can still be used, but only in a standard font, size and position" (Hume, 8/15).
"The ruling is a victory for a government faced with A$31.5 billion ($33 billion) in annual health costs from smoking, a habit it estimates killed 900,000 Australians over six decades," Bloomberg Businessweek notes (Slind-Flor, 8/16). "The laws, the toughest in the world, are in line with World Health Organization recommendations and are being watched closely by Britain, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and India, which are considering similar measures," the Guardian writes, adding, "The tobacco companies are worried the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the value of their brands" (8/15). According to Reuters, "[t]he E.U. will publish a draft revision to its 2001 Tobacco Products Directive in the fall, and may introduce more stringent rules on packaging as well as extend legislation to newer tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes" (Davenport, 8/16). CNN examines tobacco health warnings around the world (Voigt, 8/16).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.