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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Big Tobacco defeated « Previous | |Next »
August 16, 2012

The Gillard government and public health advocates are deservedly celebrating the High Court recent decision on upholding plain packaging. This dismissed Big Tobacco's argument that plain packaging amount to expropriation of their trade marks and held that the plain packaging regime is valid under the Australian Constitution. The court has yet to release its reasons.

By December 1 this year, tobacco companies selling cigarettes in Australia will have to standardise the marketing of their cigarette packs in an ordinary olive-brown colour featuring large graphic health warnings with minimal space for their specific brand name. That may help to discourage smoking among young people--prevention of uptake of harmful products is a key strategy in public health.

RoweDcigarettes.jpg David Rowe

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has been diligent in opposing regulatory restrictions on corporations--- paternalist government regulation that restricts individual liberty and responsibility. No doubt it will run its argument about the Nanny State --eg., plain packaging laws are an intrusive nanny state intervention designed to drive those Australians who still smoke off their drug of choice.

No doubt this think tank, which stands for free markets and limited government, will find new arguments to defend the interests of Big Tobacco, which has used the legal system to undermine public health policy that protects people from the deadly health effects of cigarette smoking.

The textbook tobacco industry objections to plain packaging are: it amounts to government seizure of trademarks; there is no evidence it will work; it will make counterfeiting easier. Big Tobacco will now seek to overturn the decisions of a democratic state by using international trading agreements and law (WTO).

Some trade agreements have clauses which allow foreign investors to sue governments, on the grounds that a law or policy ‘harms’ their investment. There are provisions for member states to address public health concerns and to adopt measures necessary to protect public health.

Big Tobacco industry has been evasive in admitting liability for tobacco-related health harm and damage,

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:25 AM | | Comments (7)


Nicola Roxon deserves credit for carefully and methodically taking on the tobacco companies in the area closest to their hearts and promotional capacity.

This is the ALP at its reforming best.

The nanny state argument is that government thinks that it, rather than individual responsibility, is the solution to our society's problems. Governments need to focus on their core responsibilities rather than telling people how to live their lives.

It would appear that improving the public health of a population is not a core responsibility of the state for libertarians.

I think you would enjoy listening [or reading] this.
ABC RN "Background Briefing" a year ago on plain packaging including a delightful section where Tim whatshisname from the IPA is exposed as taking bullshit.

The ABC has not totally surrendered to the reactionaries of big business.


that programme was made the time when Tim Wilson a, Director of the Intellectual Property and Free Trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs (the IPA), was warning that plain packaging could cost billions a year in compensation to big tobacco.

Wilson says:

I believe in free markets, I believe in a free society, individual choice and responsibility, and I think that's the best way to achieve public health outcomes, but increasingly governments around the world are choosing regulation as a mechanism to deal with public health problems instead of encouraging individual choice.

Wilson said at the time that he'd recently obtained Freedom of Information documents proving that the government agency Intellectual Property Australia, has advice that plain packaging isn't legally sound.

IP Australia's advice in the documents released under the FOI Act acknowledged that tobacco companies would see plain packaging as a restraint on the use of their trade marks. The advice indicated that they may try to challenge the legislation implementing the policy.

The advice did not suggest that a successful challenge would be made or that the tobacco industry would be entitled to compensation.

Wilson was acting for Big Tobacco.

Yes Mary.

This s the killer quote.

"IP Australia can confirm that the claims made by the Institute of Public Affairs are incorrect and misleading".

In a media release in April 2010 Tim Wilson of the IPA stated:

Stripping intellectual property from products is akin to stripping someone of their physical property and requires compensation under the Commonwealth Constitution and our free trade agreements. […] Federal Parliament should deeply consider whether they are prepared to gift up to $3 billion annually to big tobacco to pass plain packaging for tobacco products.

The High Court found otherwise. It did not accept that the Commonwealth acquired BAT’s intellectual property by prohibiting its use.

The Australian's editorial raves on about the finger wagging wowsers:

Australians do not need to be told that smoking is harmful; they have heard that message loud and clear. In 1945, 72 per cent of men were regular smokers; by 2010, only 16.4 per cent of men and 13.9 per cent of women were still lighting up, and the figure was still falling. For all its huffing and puffing, the government cannot tell us how many more they expect to give up the habit, or if this legislation will do anything to accelerate the natural decline. Since budget forecasts have not factored in any fall in tobacco revenue, we assume that sights have been set low. While the effects on public health are uncertain, the legislation will at least bring a rosy glow to the cheeks of the nanny statists, who assume as a matter of course that the rest of the country lacks the self-restraint to make good decisions.

It finishes by saying that in celebrating the High Court decision yesterday, The Sydney Morning Herald, otherwise known as the Nanny State Gazette, advocated further restrictions on personal choice.

It's an naked defence of Big Tobacco.