High Court justifies cigarette plain packaging decision

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th October 2012

This week the High Court of Australia released the reasons for allowing the Australian government to pass plain packaging laws in August, after the major tobacco companies’ ‘constitutional challenge’ was rejected. The reasoning outlined in a judgment made public on October 5, stated that the government had not acquired any intellectual property rights by implementing the plain packaging.

Despite major tobacco companies arguing that the government was in breach of the constitution by acquiring their intellectual property in an unfair way, the six-to-one decision ruled that the law did not involve any government acquisition.

Chief Justice Robert French said it was legal for the law to permit control over how the tobacco was marketed, and was not in breach of the Australian constitution.

The decision has sparked a major campaign by British American Tobacco in New Zealand to prevent NZ from also bringing in plain-packaging legislation. The campaign includes print, radio and television advertisements that feature the slogan “We agree that tobacco is harmful. We disagree that plain packaging will work.”

New Zealand will conclude public consultations on the plain packaging issue at the end of October, with a final decision to be announced in the following months.