High Court of Australia upholds pioneering plain tobacco packaging law
15 August 2102 / Edinburgh, Scotland – In a victory for public health, Australia's highest court ruled today against a challenge brought by big tobacco on the Australian law requiring plain packaging of tobacco products. The Union congratulates Australia on this landmark decision.
Australia's plain packaging law, passed in parliament in November 2011, requires all tobacco sold in Australia after 1 December 2012 to be packaged in standardised packs, free from industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text. Brand and product names will appear in a standard font, colour and position.
Research clearly indicates that plain packaging will encourage people to give up smoking and discourage young people from taking up smoking. In recent studies, tobacco products in standardised packs were perceived as being less fashionable, and of poorer taste, than branded products, especially by younger people and non-smokers. Most smokers start young. Plain packaging makes it even more difficult for big tobacco to promote their deadly products to increasingly brand-conscious young people.
The United Kingdom and New Zealand are in the process of following Australia's lead on plain packaging. Public health experts and tobacco control advocates in other countries are also exploring this effective measure to reduce tobacco use. The Union recently published a report on the viability of plain packaging in India.
The Union is also committed to supporting governments to stand up to tobacco industry interference in public health policy. The Union has tobacco control programmes in over 35 low- and middle-income countries. In each of these countries, the tobacco industry is aggressively attacking health legislation and policies that might prevent them from marketing their deadly products. The industry's multiple and devious tactics include legal and economic threats, funding front groups to oppose health policies, making political donations and funding mass media campaigns to discredit health policy.
Building the capacity of national governments to stand up to big tobacco and prioritize the health of citizens is central to improving the health of people in developing countries. Without addressing the health burden of the tobacco epidemic, countries will fail to meet global development health goals.
The Union recognises Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Attorney-General (and former Health Minister) Nicola Roxon and the members of Parliament who supported the plain packaging law in Australia as leading the way for other governments around the world. The Union also recognises Australian tobacco control advocates for their role in highlighting the duplicitous activities of the tobacco industry.
About The Union and tobacco control
The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) is an international scientific organisation dedicated to a world free from the poverty, disease and death caused by tobacco. It has been working to advance tobacco control in low- and middle-income countries for more than 25 years, with a focus on supporting effective tobacco control programmes through grants and promoting effective tobacco control through training, resources and research. www.tobaccofreeunion.org
About The Union
The mission of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) is to bring innovation, expertise, solutions and support to address health challenges in low- and middle-income populations. With nearly 10,000 members and subscribers from 150 countries, The Union has its headquarters in Paris and offices serving the Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and South-East Asia regions. Its scientific departments focus on tuberculosis and HIV, lung health and non-communicable diseases, tobacco control and research. Learn more at www.theunion.org