Big Tobacco losers again after another High Court blow

Friday 17 August, 2012

Big Tobacco has suffered another loss in the High Court today after British American Tobacco's application for special leave to appeal a Freedom of Information decision was denied.

British American Tobacco has been forced to pay the Federal Government's costs for the second time in a week after the High Court blocked their attempts to access a 17-year-old piece of legal advice on plain packaging.

Both the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the full bench of the Federal Court had agreed with the Federal Government that the advice was covered by legal privilege.

McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer Director Jonathan Liberman said that for the second time in three days, the High Court had ruled against British American Tobacco as expected.

"Again, time and resources have had to be wasted defending against litigation by BAT that was always doomed to fail. Unfortunately, this is just the tobacco industry's modus operandi," he said. "The result today in the High Court again completely vindicates the Government in its resolve to take on and stare down the tobacco industry."

Quit Victoria Policy Manager Kylie Lindorff said British American Tobacco had been forced to cough up again.

"Their Freedom of Information assault was part of Big Tobacco's strategy to undermine the plain packaging legislation and to divert resources away from its implementation but even that strategy has failed," she said. "Going ahead with their case today after their resounding defeat in the High Court on Wednesday appears to be nothing more than sour grapes but this is an industry that has no shame."

The court case comes as the world's largest tobacco use survey published today in The Lancet highlights the enormity of the tobacco epidemic.

The study found alarming rates of tobacco use with 852 million tobacco users in just the 16 countries surveyed.

Ms Lindorff said the study added to the large body of evidence that strong tobacco control policies work.

"Comprehensive tobacco control programs including measures such as plain packaging save lives," she said.