WTO Appellate Body rules in favour of tobacco plain packaging

10 June 2020 (Last Updated June 10th, 2020 16:14)

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body (AB) has supported Australia on its tobacco plain packaging requirements.

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body (AB) has supported Australia on its tobacco plain packaging requirements.

The favourable ruling follows after Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ukraine and Indonesia complained that Australia imposed restrictions on trademarks, geographical indications (GIs), and other plain packaging requirements.

The international trade court has rejected Honduras and the Dominican Republic’s allegations that Australia’s tobacco “plain packaging” requirements conflict with WTO provisions.

The decision brings an end to the eight years old dispute brought forth by the five countries.

Following this ruling, plain packaging measures will be allowed to stand in Australia.

Meanwhile, British American Tobacco (BAT) issued a statement on WTO’s decision.

BAT spokesperson said: “Naturally, we are disappointed with the ultimate findings of the report. However, it is important to note that decisions from the WTO Panel or Appellate Body do not set a global precedent when it comes to this measure, and will only be binding to the parties involved in this dispute.

“We believe a more effective way for governments to address smoking rates is to focus their efforts on providing smokers with a greater choice of potentially reduced risk alternatives, such as vapour products.

“We remain firm in our belief that plain packaging is an ineffective and disproportionate measure that doesn’t reduce smoking levels. Our position that plain packaging is bad policy, continues to be supported by the evidence coming out of Australia that shows the measure has not achieved its objective of reducing smoking rates.”