Consumerist: Syabas – Unlike Other Rogue Jurisdictions Australian High court dismisses Tobacco Industry Challenge!
From time to time the Almighty is gracious and us Consumer Advocates around the world get their motivation and an upliftment in their many pursuits to uphold and strive for accountability good governance, a level playing field, pro consumer legislation and victories against rogue organizations that work against the rights and interests of consumers around the world!
So indeed I am overjoyed at hearing from my colleagues from Australia that cigarettes will be sold in plain packaging from December after the High Court this morning dismissed the tobacco industry’s challenge to the world-first laws.
A majority of justices rejected manufacturers’ argument that laws were unconstitutional. The court did not publish the reasons for its decision.
The industry had argued the Government failed to acquire their trade marks on “just terms” and claimed they were entitled to billions of dollars in compensation.
The decision means that from October, cigarettes made in Australia will need to be packaged in drab brown boxes featuring standard fonts and larger graphic health warnings.
Logos, slogans, colors and other branding will be banned.
From December all products on shelves will need to be in plain packaging.
Tobacco companies had earlier launched a legal challenge to plain packaging through international trade laws but these are likely to take years to be resolved.
Dear friend, Jonathan Liberman, the director of anti-smoking group McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer had rightly stated that the court’s decision was welcome and “resound globally” as other countries considered plain packaging.
He went on to add:
“It shows to everybody that the only way to deal with tobacco industry claims, sabre rattling and legal threats is to stare them down in court!”
“It would be great if the tobacco industry would just say ‘We understand our products are addictive, they kill up to half of long term users and we will cop on the chin whatever the Government decides needs to be done to reduce their harm’” Jonathan added!
Like Jonathan, I am also confident the Government would prevail in the trade disputes in any jurisdiction provided the rights and interests of consumers are taken into cognizance – period and not the industry and big business!
Chief Justice Robert French in his judgment had stated that the majority of justices found the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill was not in contravention of Section 51 of the Australian constitution.
The tobacco companies have been ordered to pay the Commonwealth’s legal costs.
Many groups are elated at this decision and among them health groups who feel the decision was a major win against smoking.
Australian Council on Smoking and Health president Mike Daube, who chaired the Federal Government committee which called for plain packaging, said the decision had global ramifications.
“Today’s High Court decision that tobacco plain packaging can proceed is a massive win for public health and also the global tobacco industry’s worst defeat yet,” he said.
“The global tobacco companies have opposed plain packaging more ferociously than any other measure because they know that plain packaging will have a major impact on smoking here and other countries will follow.”
Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver said it was a landmark ruling that put public health before vested commercial interests.
In Malaysia I am after pushing for a ban on smoking in ALL PUBLIC PLACES awaiting for a just and courageous step to be taken that will surely be welcomed by all 27 Million Malaysian Consumers!