(Access to Coverage of Tobacco Treatment In Our Nation)
Shaping Policies | Improving Health
August 15, 2012 In a decision announced Wednesday, Australia’s high court upheld the plain packaging act, which says that tobacco products must be in plain packaging without logos and bear graphic health warnings as of December 1. The government immediately hailed the ruling, calling it a “watershed moment for tobacco control around the world. The message to the rest of the world is big tobacco can be taken on and beaten,” Attorney General Nicola Roxon said in a statement. “Without brave governments willing to take the fight up to big tobacco, they’d still have us believing that tobacco is neither harmful nor addictive.”
Australia is the first nation in the world to require “plain packaging” for tobacco. Only the brand and variant name will differ against a drab, dark-color background. Other government initiatives against tobacco have included a 25% excise in 2010, restrictions on Internet advertising, and more than $85 million in anti-smoking social marketing campaigns. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills nearly 6 million people a year, 10% of them from secondhand smoke exposure. The WHO says the death toll could rise to more than 8 million a year by 2030 without urgent action. Tobacco companies, including Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris Limited and British American Tobacco, had challenged the act as unconstitutional, saying the government was unfairly taking its intellectual property. The high court posted the decision on its website, but not the full opinion. That will be published at a later date, it said.
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