JTI launches plain packaging court challenge

by Jenny Novac on December 19, 2011

Japan Tobacco International yesterday launched a challenge in the High Court against Australia’s recently-enacted ‘plain packaging’ legislation, according to a PRNewswire story relayed by the TMA.

Cigarette Plain Pack

Opened plain cigarette packaging

The new law will require cigarettes sold in Australia to be included in packs that have been designed by the government to be as unattractive as possible.

Olive green – or drab brown if you work in the olives industry – packs will be adorned with graphic health warnings taking up 75 per cent of the front surface and 90 per cent of the back.

Although brand names will be included on packs; they will appear in a standard format. Individual trademarks and logos are being removed.

The law bans the manufacture of non-compliant products from October 1 next year and bans the sale of non-compliant products from December 1.

JTI’s regional president for the Asia Pacific, Stefan Fitz, said the company had hoped that common sense would prevail but that it had clearly not.

Fitz said the law was unconstitutional as it would result in the acquisition of Japan Tobacco International‘s property otherwise than on just terms.

He also noted that there was no reliable evidence that demonstrated the effectiveness of such legislation in reducing smoking.

Philip Morris Asia Ltd (PMA), Hong Kong, owner of Australian affiliate, Philip Morris Ltd (PML), announced on November 21 that it had begun legal proceedings against the Australian government by serving a Notice of Arbitration under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.

And PML intends to pursue claims under domestic law before the High Court of Australia.

Earlier this month, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco Australia launched separate High Court challenges against the packaging legislation.

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