Plain packaging on cigars and other tobacco products is about to become a reality in Australia, as the country’s High Court upheld the constitutionality of a law passed by Parliament requiring the change. The ruling was announced on August 15, yet the court’s opinion on the case has yet to be published.
The law goes into effect on December 1, 2012, and requires that all tobacco products sold at retail be sold in plain packaging. The key issue before the court was whether, under the Constitution, plain packaging is an ‘acquisition of property’, which includes a corresponding benefit to the government.
There are several pending challenges between tobacco companies and the World Trade Organization regarding the issues, as some believe that the legislation contradicts Australia’s obligations as a WTO member.