A wrap of reaction to the High Court decision on plain packaging
Update, 16 Aug: more reaction has been added at the bottom of the post
Today’s High Court finding on plain packaging of cigarettes has provoked an outpouring of public health air punching.
The President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Professor Mike Daube, is quoted in the SMH describing it as ”the global tobacco industry’s worst defeat”.
The SMH also reports that the High Court has awarded costs against the tobacco companies that are estimated to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You can read the High Court statement here (reasons for the decision to be published at a later date), stating that Australia’s world-first plain tobacco packaging legislation is constitutional.
The Court rejected claims by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris that plain packaging is an ‘acquisition of property’ requiring the payment of compensation to the tobacco industry.
Below is a wrap of reaction to the decision (don’t miss the BATA statement), and towards the bottom of the post is an analysis of the local and global implications from Professor Simon Chapman, first published at The Conversation.
The post concludes with some of the immediate Twitter reaction (for more see #plainpackaging).
1. Wrap of reaction
The director of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, Jonathan Liberman, said the Court’s decision would resound across the world, with plain packaging under consideration in several countries including India, New Zealand and the UK.
The High Court’s decision would embolden other countries to pursue plain packaging in the face of tobacco industry legal threats and challenges.
Mr Liberman said that plain packaging remains the subject of consultations in the World Trade Organisation and a challenge brought by Philip Morris Asia under a bilateral investment agreement between Australia and Hong Kong.
‘The consensus among independent legal experts is that plain packaging will survive challenge in each of these forums, just as it has in the High Court of Australia,” he said.
Quit Victoria Policy Manager Kylie Lindorff said: ”This world-first reform means the next generation of Australians will never be exposed to or deceived by tobacco advertising and that step will go a long way towards ensuring the nation’s youth will not be seduced into taking up this deadly habit,” she said.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the landmark decision would provide hope and confidence to other governments around the world who were considering plain packaging including the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
“This world-first legislation has been upheld despite the tobacco industry’s best efforts to overturn it in a bid to recruit a new generation of smokers and future cancer sufferers,” he said.
Mr Harper said today’s decision was proof governments around the world must stand strong in the face of intimidation by litigation from Big Tobacco.
“The tobacco industry will continue to use the legal system to undermine public health policy that protects people from the deadly effects of tobacco,” he said.
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network responds
Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, welcomed the High Court decision but said the Government still faces two more legal challenges from big tobacco, which is desperate to stop Australia setting an example by implementing the plain packaging recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
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