Implications of WTO Law for Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products
PUBLIC HEALTH AND PLAIN PACKAGING OF CIGARETTES: LEGAL ISSUES, Andrew Mitchell, Tania Voon and Jonathan Liberman, eds., Edward Elgar, UK, 2012
26 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2011 Last revised: 26 Aug 2011
Date Written: June 30, 2011
The Australian federal government recently released an exposure draft of legislation to introduce a scheme for the mandatory ‘plain packaging’ of cigarettes and other tobacco products from 2012. The scheme will prohibit the use of brand logos, graphics and colors on tobacco products and packaging manufactured or sold in Australia or imported into Australia. All packages will be the same dark olive brown color, largely taken up by graphic and textual health warnings, with brand names appearing in the same font and limited size. As Australia is set to become the first country in the world to implement such a scheme, its outcome will establish a critical precedent for both tobacco control interests and tobacco companies. Unsurprisingly, the scheme is already coming under attack through extensive advertising campaigns funded by tobacco companies and allegations of domestic and international legal violations, some of which have reached the level of formal complaints in bilateral and multilateral fora. This chapter critically analyses claims that plain packaging as envisaged by Australia would breach various agreements of the World Trade Organization. We explain in particular why the scheme is consistent with the TRIPS Agreement, the TBT Agreement, and the GATT 1994, and not covered by the SPS Agreement.
Keywords: WTO, international trade law, cigarettes, international law, intellectual property, trademarks
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation