Cigarette Plain Packaging Dispute Tilts to Australia In Leaked WTO Draft; Details Here [VIDEO]
The World Trade Organization (WTO) backed Australia's decision to implement the cigarette plain packaging law in a draft that was leaked before the official announcement in July. Get to know more details, here.
Plain Packaging Law In Australia
The cigarette plain packaging law in Australia was passed in 2010 and was aimed to only allow uniform packaging of all cigarettes, regardless of brand. The tobacco industry's main players Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia, and the Dominican Republic immediately sought relief with the WTO because they believed the law was a barrier to trade. Cigarette companies also believed that the cigarette plain packaging law infringed on its trademarks and intellectual property, Reuters reported.
The dispute at the WTO between Australia and the big tobacco firms has gone on for almost five years. Prior to their WTO case, the big tobacco companies have already brought their arguments before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2011 and the High Court of Australia in 2012 and lost both times. But with deep pockets, the tobacco firms have backed the smaller nations with tobacco interests to file a case against the law at the WTO, the Econotimes reported.
If all goes in favor of Australia, this will be an affirmation that countries can and have a right to introduce measures like the cigarette plain packaging law for the protection and promotion of health of its citizens. This type of measure has already been adopted in the UK, France, and Hungary, with many more countries to follow suit or at least seriously considering it.
Tobacco Companies Not Having It
The tobacco companies are unwilling to follow the cigarette packaging law because it will affect their pricing power. They will be unable to maintain their edge over their cheaper rivals, since the uniform look of all packaging will disregard which one is "premium" or not.
Big tobacco companies also are wary of the fact that the plain packaging can erode their profit margins more because the uniform look can easily be faked. Stay tuned for more details.