The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Civil society cheers Philip Morris loss on Australia's plain packaging

Example of plain packagingCivil society groups on Friday cheered news that Philip Morris had lost its latest challenge to Australia's laws requiring plain packaging of tobacco products.

The company claimed the laws violated trademark provisions in an Australia-Hong Kong investment agreement, but a tribunal ruled that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case. 

"This is the second victory against the tobacco industry in legal challenges against plain packaging," said Mr. Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, in Australia. "It is time for them to abandon this desperate legal strategy aimed at undermining plain packaging."

Another Australia-based organisation, The McCabe Centre, noted that the decision came on the same day that the legislature in France approved plain packaging. It will come into force in May 2016, the same month as in the UK and Ireland. 

Strategy failing

"The tobacco industry’s litigation strategy is patently not working to scare countries out of introducing plain packaging," said Centre Director, Jonathan Liberman. 

Australia introduced plain packaging in 2011. The law states that all tobacco must be sold in packages of the same colour and without logos and any other branding.

In 2012, Australia's High Court rejected Philip Morris' challenge of the law, which came into force in December 2012. 

"Tobacco companies have fiercely opposed plain cigarette packaging laws because they know these laws will work," said Matthew Myers, President of US-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. "In Australia, smoking rates have fallen at the fastest pace in more than two decades following the implementation of the plain packaging law and other tobacco control measures," he added in a statement.

More than one dozen other countries have taken steps to adopt 'plain packs', or said they will do so.

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