WTO Backs Australian Plain Packaging Laws
The World Trade Organization has upheld Australia’s right to impose plain-package label restrictions on the sale of tobacco products, two people close to the situation have told Bloomberg.
A WTO dispute settlement panel backed Australia’s argument that the rules it set in 2011 don’t violate trade law because they qualify as a legitimate public health measure, the people said, asking not to be identified by name because the decision isn’t yet public. The initial notification of the ruling was circulated to the parties of the dispute on May 2, according to a spokesman for the WTO who declined to comment on its content.
According to Bloomberg, the decision has the potential to ‘usher in a new wave of global tobacco restrictions’ from other countries that have sought to decrease smoking rates through the use of plain packaging.
Australia was the first country to prohibit tobacco logos, and many countries have hesitated to implement such measures after four countries filed complaints in 2012 and 2013.
Ireland has recently unveiled its own plain packaging laws, which mean that from 30 September this year, all forms of branding have to be removed from tobacco packs.
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