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July 2, 2018updated 14 Sep 2018 10:46am

WTO panel rules in favour of Australia’s plain tobacco packaging law

A panel of judges at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled in favour of Australia’s ‘plain’ tobacco packaging law.

A panel of judges at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled in favour of Australia’s ‘plain’ tobacco packaging law.

The WTO dismissed all of the claims brought by Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Cuba that Australia’s measure is inconsistent with WTO rules.

The WTO gave the thumbs up to the tobacco plain packaging regulation, stating that it is making a meaningful contribution to improving public health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) was quoted by media sources as saying: “The ruling clears another legal hurdle thrown up in the tobacco industry’s efforts to block tobacco control and is likely to accelerate implementation of plain packaging around the globe.”

Australia is arguing that plain tobacco packaging is within the country’s rights to secure public health, while upholding international trade and investment obligations.

Under the plain packaging measures, which have been implemented since December 2012, cigarette packs should feature logo-free, drab dark brown packaging.

In 2016, the organisation called upon all the countries to bring regulations related to standardised packaging of tobacco products.

Several countries, including France and the UK and Northern Ireland, followed footsteps of Australia in implementing these measures.

The Canadian government has recently proposed plain packaging of tobacco products in an effort to drive down tobacco consumption to 5% of the country’s population by 2035.

The Australian government is gearing up to take on any appeals to the judgement passed by the WTO panel.

Australia Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo said: “The Turnbull government is committed to defending any appeal proceedings we may face at the WTO regarding today’s panel report.  We will not shy away from fighting for the right to protect the health of Australians.”

 

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