The Australian government is warning other governments to spur advances made by the giants in the tobacco industry to represent them in the World Trade Organization to put forth an intellectual property dispute in the WTO (as only countries can put forth claims) that would be an obstacle in addition to potential court battles over Australia’s proposed set of anti-tobacco laws that, according to many Australian government officials, will pass in parliament next week.
However, governments of countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Peru and Kenya are anxious as tobacco is a major industry in their respective countries and that Australia’s tough measures, which could spread throughout the world, could have a disastrous effect on the industry.
Among Australia’s proposed bill, a law will force cigarettes to be sold in plain olive green packaging without any unique trademark of a tobacco company adorning it starting in the year 2012.
The use of the olive green plain packaging (along with the removal of brands and their own advertising colors), according to researchers, will target the colour psychology of humans in substantially reducing cigarette sales.
Among the tobacco giants are Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco which have already threatened to take their case to the High Court and even claim compensation for billions of USD in the event the Australian parliament pass the laws.
Elsewhere in the world, tobacco companies are challenging their own situations according to each unique set of laws in each country. In the United States, tobacco companies are claiming that the graphic imagery on cigarette packets accompanied by health warnings violate the companies’ free speech.
The Department of Health and Ageing declared that the newly proposed laws is following the World Health Organization’s guidelines on measures against tobacco including the use of plain packaging.
According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people on Earth are regular smokers. Currently, 15% of the Australian population are smokers.
The Australian Department of Health and Ageing’s Minister Nicola Roxon announced that one of the goals is to cut down the 15% to 10% of the population by the year 2018 and reduce the number of Australians who died because of tobacco-related causes.
(Cover Photo: Simon Belcher/Alamy/Photomontage by Guardian Imaging)