Kampala; August 15, 2012
CTCA applauds the court ruling on Australia’s ‘plain packaging’ law The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa ( CTCA) congratulates and applauds the Australian government for the huge win on plain packaging on cigarette packs.
In a landmark ruling, the Australian government has secured a victory over tobacco companies with the High Court ruling that the world-first plain packaging laws are constitutionally valid. The cigarettes in plain packaging will go on the shelves of Australia on 1st December, 2002.
Under the legislation, all cigarettes packaging in Australia will not be allowed to have tobacco company logos and brand imagery. Instead, they will be sold in brown coloured boxes with the brand names in standard text. The only imaging allowed will be photos of people suffering from diseases caused by tobacco use.
The purpose of the legislation is to prevent youth from starting smoking by reducing the appeal of tobacco packaging. Research shows that young people ‘like’ regular packs and found plain packaging ‘boring’ and ‘less trendy’. They reported that they were less likely to start smoking if all cigarettes were sold in plain packs.
Plain packaging has several other benefits. It will remove the ability of the cigarette companies to falsely imply that some brands like ‘light’ or ‘low tar’ are less harmful than regular cigarettes. It will also enhance the effectiveness of health warnings.
The new law will now make it illegal, for example, for the cigarette manufacturers to market cigarettes in ‘slim’ packages to women to promote the belief that smoking is a way to stay thin and control weight.
The tobacco industry fought against Australia’s move on plain packaging as ferociously than any other tobacco control measure, because they know that plain packaging would have a major impact on smoking in Australia - and in the other countries that might follow Australia’s lead. The cigarette pack is considered as one of their most powerful marketing tool. Plain packs will put a stop to this form of unethical promotions of the tobacco industry like attractively designed cigarette packs being sold in our countries.
In April this year, the High Court in Australia heard challenges by several tobacco companies to the validity of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011. The plaintiffs sought to rely upon the restraint upon the legislative power of the Commonwealth Parliament found which empowers the Parliament to make laws with respect to "the acquisition of property on just terms".
The plaintiffs / tobacco companies argued that some or all of the provisions of the Act were invalid because they were an acquisition of the plaintiffs' property otherwise than on just terms.
This is the second blow in quick succession from the court’s to the tobacco industry’s view that cigarettes are ‘legal’ and that it has a right to market this deadly addiction as though they were selling wholesome apples and oranges.
Last week, the Constitutional Court in South Africa denied British American Tobacco SA leave to appeal against a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling that a ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Control Act was “reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society”.
Both rulings come at a time when many African countries are working hard to ensure that they enact comprehensive tobacco control legislation and policies to support the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ( FCTC).
Among CTCA’s target countries, Uganda and Mauritania are currently working on the their tobacco control bills that contain provisions on Graphic Health Warnings.
South Africa and Kenya are in the process of developing Graphic Health Warnings.