A decision has been upheld by the World Trade Organization that requires Australia’s cigarettes to be sold in plain packages without any logos. The landmark case could usher in a new wave of global tobacco restrictions. A panel of dispute-settlement experts backed the legality of Australia’s measure this week.
The measure was introduced back in 2011, but has caused high controversy to companies such as Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco. The Tobacco companies argue the rules could set a precedent for other countries to implement similar labelling decisions. They also suggest it will make it easier for cigarettes to be counterfeited.
“Tobacco plain packaging is an evidence-based measure that WHO recommends as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control,” said Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesman, in an e-mail. “A positive decision from the WTO panel is likely to accelerate global implementation.”
A long list of countries including South Africa, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, India, Panama, Malaysia, Turkey and Singapore are considering plain-packaging measures. So far, France, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia and the UK have already passed such rules.