Ukraine suspends tobacco plain packaging lawsuit against Australia in WTO

3 June 2015 (Last Updated June 3rd, 2015 18:30)

Ukraine has suspended lawsuit against Australia's plain-packaging law for tobacco products.

Ukraine has suspended lawsuit against Australia's plain-packaging law for tobacco products.

The country filed a lawsuit against Australia with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2012, which claimed that the law would result in restrictive trade.

Indonesia, Cuba, Honduras and Dominican Republic have also filed similar lawsuits to challenge Australia's packaging law.

"Ukraine has delivered a clear message that the new government is making public health a priority over the interests of the big tobacco companies."

Australia's law enforced in 2011 requires that cigarettes be sold in plain, drab packaging, without featuring colourful logos and other branding that encourages tobacco use.

Ukraine has told a WTO panel that it will try to find a mutually agreed solution with Australia, instead of continuing its legal proceedings.

The WTO adjudication panel is expected to rule on the cases in the first half of 2016.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew Myers said: "By suspending its case before the WTO, Ukraine has delivered a clear message that the new government is making public health a priority over the interests of the big tobacco companies.

"Ukraine has set an example that should be followed quickly by the other countries that have challenged Australia. It is another important sign that the industry's claims against Australia lack merit."

Following the Australian initiative for plain-packaging, the UK and Ireland also brought in similar regulation.

Tobacco firms Japan Tobacco International, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco have filed lawsuits against the UK Government's decision to implement plain packaging from May 2017.