Big Tobacco Crashes At First Legal Hurdle On Plain Packaging

Reasons for the decision will be released soon. Nonetheless, it is thought that the Court may have released its decision before the comprehensive reasons because this Friday, British American Tobacco Australasia is due in another court on a related matter. That involves the company’s attempts to obtain documents dating back to the Keating Federal government (1991-1996) under freedom of information laws.

The High Court may have considered that the business’s curiosity about these documents might now be judged a fool’s errand and are providing it a chance to reconsider. Three governments, Ukraine, the Dominican Republic and Honduras have submitted complaints with the World Trade Organization against the Australian government’s legislation. None of the nations have any significant trade of any sort with Australia, let alone in tobacco products. But Indonesia and America are two countries conspicuous among basket-case nations (such as Somalia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) absent from the 175 countries that are party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

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They may have been expected to complain about the precedent that Australia has set. But instead, Big Tobacco’s best team are global minnows. Specialists in global trade legislation give the difficulties little potential customer of success. Another case is being brought by Philip Morris Asia (located in Hong Kong) via a bilateral trade agreement between Australia and Hong Kong signed in 1993. The timeline of this case is amazing. April 29 On, 2010, the Australian government announced its intention to introduce plain packaging.

At the time Philip Morris tobacco products in Australia were produced by Philip Morris Australia. Imagine someone considering investing in a property and learning 14 a few months prior to the sale that the property would be badly affected by a fresh freeway being built nearby. Then imagine them going ahead and purchasing the house and then taking the government to the courtroom for compensation over damage to their investment. Philip Morris Asia’s case would appear to really have the same leads, quite aside from all the quarrels against the idea that a trade treaty can override any government’s sovereignty in public area’s health matters. So what can we expect from Big Tobacco locally?

First, we will have dramatic price falls in the retail price of tobacco. Tobacco companies today chase the “value market” because they know that the total sales volume is steady and the margins on high-end brands are where they profit most. A leaked BATA inner staff development DVD from 2001 explains how the company then had a need to sell five packs of budget brands to get the same profit from one high quality brand pack. Plain product packaging strips the industry of the vital way to obtain revenue while gutting its ability to distract smokers from thinking about what they are buying.

Australia is a little market for Big Tobacco, and it may well be willing to treat us in the manner as when supermarkets place significantly reduced “loss-head” items on special to get customers into the store. The industry will be so desperate to demonstrate to watching countries that plain packages “don’t work” that it might even anticipate wearing local losses for a year or so.

But the Australian Federal government can simply increase the tobacco tax overnight as often as it needs to effectively maintain a floor price for smoking that will deter smokers from buying more than they could have afforded previously. Second, the standby position for many “3rd party” reports by tame academics from obscure universities or corporate consultancies, purporting to show that the new product packaging have not affected by smoking. The rhetoric will oxygenate ignorant community assumptions that basic product packaging was somehow going to significantly cut smoking across the community right away.