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Plain packaging: tobacco giant to sue Australian government

Mon 21st November, 2011

Philip Morris has launched legal action against the Australian government after parliament passed legislation banning all branding from cigarette packs.

The legislation, which takes effect in December 2012, bans the use of logos and brand imagery on cigarette packages, instead requiring that brand names be printed in a small, uniform font on dull olive green packets – a colour the government believes consumers will hate.

Philip Morris says that billions of dollars of valuable trademarks and investments in Australia are at stake.

"We are left with no option," Anne Edwards, a spokesman for Philip Morris Asia, said in a statement. "The government has passed this legislation despite being unable to demonstrate that it will be effective at reducing smoking and has ignored the widespread concerns raised in Australia and internationally regarding the serious legal issues associated with plain packaging."

Nicola Roxon, the health and ageing minister, called the new law "an example for the world to follow".

"Plain packaging means that the glamour is gone from smoking and cigarettes are now exposed for what they are: killer products that destroy thousands of Australian families," she said.

She said packaging is one of the last powerful marketing tools available to tobacco companies.

"Let there be no mistake, big tobacco is fighting against the government for one very simple reason – because it knows, as we do, that plain packaging will work," Ms Roxon said.

Source: Daily Telegraph (21 November 2011)

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