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Australia Adopts Law That Puts Graphic Images On Cigarette Packs
Australia’s highest court on Wednesday upheld the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion, meaning tobacco companies will be prohibited from displaying their logos on cigarette packs that will instead feature images of cancer-riddled mouths, blinded eyeballs and sickly children.
The High Court rejected a challenge by tobacco companies who argued the value of their trademarks will be destroyed if they are no longer able to display their distinctive colors, brand designs and logos on packs of cigarettes.
Starting in December, packs will instead come in a uniformly drab shade of olive and feature dire health warnings and graphic photographs of smoking’s health effects. The government, which has urged other countries to adopt similar rules, hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.
“Many other countries around the world … will take heart from the success of this decision today,” Attorney General Nicola Roxon told reporters after the court ruling.
“Governments can take on big tobacco and win and it’s worth countries looking again at what the next appropriate step is for them,” she added.
British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International are worried that the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands. They challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate intellectual property rights and devalue their trademarks.
The cigarette makers argued that the government would unfairly benefit from the law by using cigarette packs as a platform to promote its own message, without compensating the tobacco companies. Australia’s constitution says the government can only acquire the property of others on “just terms.”
We’re not sure how well something like this would go over here in America considering how many politicians that tabacco lobbyist have in their pockets, but we’re sure that won’t stop some lawmakers from trying.
Image via Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg