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Australia successfully defends plain packaging against Philip Morris legal challenge

Friday 18 December, 2015

The Phillip Morris challenge to the Australian Government on tobacco plain packaging under a 1993 investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong has failed.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Mr Todd Harper said the tobacco industry must accept the will of the courts, the will of the Australian people and stop standing in the way of the health of future generations.

"This is the second victory against the tobacco industry in legal challenges against plain packaging. It is time for them to abandon this desperate legal strategy aimed at undermining plain packaging."

Mr Harper said it was the worst nightmare of the tobacco industry that plain packaging be implemented on a global scale.

"Overnight we have heard that France will progress with plain packaging, marking yet another country to adopt this important tobacco control initiative."

"Other countries should feel confident that bullying tactics of big tobacco cannot stand in the way of public health measures."

Research released this year revealed plain packaging of tobacco products in Australia is delivering on its promise to restrict the ability of the pack to create appeal, according to the first comprehensive evaluation of the legislation.

Published in a special supplement to the British Medical Journal, fourteen peer-reviewed papers examined various aspects of the implementation of plain packaging and the impact it has had on the community, including young people and adult smokers. The findings included:

  • Plain packaging has delivered on its aim to reduce appeal of packs, particularly with adolescents and young adults
  • There was no evidence of an increase in the consumption of illicit "cheap white" cigarettes
  • The impact of plain packaging extends beyond expectation with studies suggesting the initiative encourages thinking about quitting and quit attempts