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Australia cigarette plain packaging law upheld by court
Australia cigarette plain packaging law upheld by court The Highest Court of Australia upheld the Australian plain packaging law by rejecting the tobacco companies’ challenge on 15 August. COSH welcomes the court ruling as it strengthens the tobacco control measures in a great extent and advocates to the Hong Kong Government for adopting plain packaging in Hong Kong so as to reduce tobacco promotion.

In the past 60 years, it was estimated that more than 900,000 people were died of smoking-related diseases and the associated medical and community costs brought by smoking totaled around $31.5 billion (HKD256.6 billion) in Australia. To reduce the smoking hazards, the Australian government, last year, passed the law to require mandatory packaging for cigarettes to be sold in plain olive green packets with brand colours with removed logos whereas graphic health warning images showing the consequences of smoking be printed on at least 75% area of the main sides of the packaging of tobacco products. Australia is the first country in the world to implement plain packaging in this December. The local tobacco control organizations believe that through the legislation, it upholds the government’s obligation to protect the health of public by strengthening the tobacco control measures. Plain packaging removes the last advertising channels of tobacco companies which could effectively make tobacco products less appealing to the public especially the youth.

The largest tobacco companies claimed that the law was unconstitutional and appealed to the Australian’s High Court. They argued that plain packaging is in breach of their intellectual property rights as it bans the use of brands and logos on cigarette packaging and devalues their trademarks unfairly without compensation. They further questioned the effectiveness of this measure as plain packaging would only exacerbate significant illicit tobacco trafficking problem. The Court endorsed that the law is not unconstitutional and rejected the appeal on 15 August.

COSH welcomes the Australian Court’s Ruling. Despite that Hong Kong is one of the region with the lowest smoking prevalence among the world, around 7,000 people are died of cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke every year. The health and economic costs brought about by cigarette smoking amounts up to HK$5.3 billion. Health warning must be strengthened.

Source : Quit Victoria
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