Australia cigarette plan facing new legal threat

Jul 02, 2011

A second global tobacco giant has flagged legal action over Australia's plain packaging plan for cigarettes, warning of violations of its intellectual property rights, a report said Saturday.

British American Tobacco said it stood ready to take Canberra to court over the plan to put cigarettes in bland, logo-free packets with graphic from next year in a drive to lower smoking rates.

The Hong Kong-based Asian arm of tobacco giant Philip Morris launched a lawsuit this week claiming the plan breached a bilateral investment treaty between Hong Kong and Australia by forcibly removing trademarks and other intellectual property.

British American said it faced similar issues.

"British American Tobacco Australia has always said that with any attempt to introduce plain packaging we will defend our intellectual property," a spokesman told The Australian newspaper.

"We don't want to end up in court and we hope that situation can be avoided, but if the government keeps pushing ahead with its plans for plain packaging then unfortunately court is where it will end up."

The spokesman said Canberra would likely face "numerous both domestically and internationally" over the proposal.

British American's managing director David Crow had written to the highlighting concerns about the proposal raised by the EU, Mexico, Indonesia, China, Brazil and other countries, according to The Australian.

Philip Morris has said it has a "very strong legal case and will be seeking significant for the damage to our business."

Canberra says 15,000 Australians die of smoking-related diseases every year, and that costs the country Aus$31.5 billion ($34 billion) annually in healthcare and lost productivity.

Although Australia would be the first country in the world to mandate plain packaging, New Zealand, Canada and Britain have considered a similar approach and are closely watching developments.

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User comments : 26

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Squirrel
3.5 / 5 (6) Jul 02, 2011
Australia should require that British American Tobacco and Philip Morris show that their products have no ill effects upon the health of Australians. Until then ban them as unsafe with their packaging and its "intellectual property rights".
Telekinetic
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 02, 2011
To witness the death of a family member by lung cancer is the most gruesome and painful experience imagineable. Since 1900, there's been 100 million deaths related to tobacco use. The tax revenues from the sale will keep it on the shelves for a long time to come. There's your free market, for you. And don't tell me it's an individual's choice to smoke or not to smoke- A 14 year-old doesn't make rational choices, he/she does what their pals do.
Thex1138
5 / 5 (5) Jul 02, 2011
What they are really afraid of is when other countries follow the Australian initiative to snuff out the cancer man...
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (2) Jul 03, 2011
To witness the death of a family member is the most painful experience imagineable. Since 1900, there's been 10 billion deaths related to humans.

Get over your fear of dying, we are all gonna go.
Telekinetic
2 / 5 (4) Jul 03, 2011
"Get over your fear of dying, we are all gonna go."
After you.
mrwolfe
not rated yet Jul 03, 2011
Perhaps the government should sue the tobacco companies for compensation. When big tobacco start paying for the damage their products do, they'll begin to see the light ...
Deesky
5 / 5 (1) Jul 04, 2011
It's a welcome development. But why do governments keep playing these games of making it more and more difficult for the tobacco companies? Why don't they just bite the bullet and make tobacco illegal altogether? Give the companies notice of say five years to get their affairs in order to exit the market.

It's a fact that a product like cigarettes - a documented carcinogen with a multitude of other severe health problems and zero benefits, would never be allowed to be sold if it were a new product seeking approval for sale today.
bluehigh
2 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2011
Alcohol is the second largest cause of drug-related deaths and hospitalizations in Australia (after tobacco).

Alcohol is responsible for a considerable burden of death, disease and injury in Australia. Alcohol-related harm to health is not limited to drinkers but also affects families, bystanders and the broader community.

It was estimated that 31% of all driver and pedestrian road deaths in Australia are alcohol-related. (compared with near zero for tobacco).

So all you mad health zealots going to demand plain packaging on beer,wine and spirits? Nah, didn't think so. Hypocrites.

bluehigh
2 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2011
The leading cause of death in Australia in 2009 was heart disease.

Ban TV and limit computer access. Make exercise compulsory and bye bye fast food. Ban Maccas and KFC.

Suicide (self-harm) continues to be a more frequent cause of death than lung cancer in Australia. Now wonder with all the depressing fun police telling everyone how to live a long healthy boring life.

bluehigh
2 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2011
The leading cause of death in Australia in 2009 was heart disease and Suicide (self-harm) continues to be a more frequent cause of death than lung cancer in Australia.

.. but hey dont let facts get in the way of your zealotry!

ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2011
"hat tobacco use costs the country Aus$31.5 billion ($34 billion) annually in healthcare and lost productivity."
How much revenue does Australia receive from tobacco and alcohol taxes?
bluehigh
2 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2011
The government figures generally show that the revenue from tobacco excise and other tax is some 5 to 10 times the estimated cost in healthcare. 5% of retail sales are tobacco related.

This link has some detailed info and to deflect the likely claims of bias - i have checked briefly and the figures seem to be corroborated by government sources.

http://www.tobacc...economy-

Gosh, smokers seem to not only be paying their way in terms of health care but are also paying for much more serious health problems faced by the fat, lazy junk food eaters.

Deesky
4.4 / 5 (7) Jul 04, 2011
Do you have a point bluey? Drinking in moderation is not detrimental to your health. In fact, there is evidence that it may have healthful benefits. This cannot be said with smoking - the inhalation of smoke and other byproducts of combustion directly into one's lungs, and then their exhalation so that it can be shared by innocent bystanders.

If you're going to argue substance abuse, then pretty much anything that's abused can kill you or be harmful to your health. That argument doesn't wash.

Instead of arguing against straw men, why don't you just kick the habit? Your lungs will thank you!
bluehigh
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 04, 2011
My point is that smoking per se is not the leading cause of death or illness. You should check the facts before joining the parade of uninformed zealots. Highly fatty food and lack of exercise are the major cause of health related illness, so go wrap fast food in plain packs with a warning too! My secondary point is that if you are going to restrict tobacco then the same logic should apply to alcohol consumption and as you might appreciate ts unlikely that any country is going to be selling Jack Daniels in a plain wrapper. I am not arguing that smoking is in any way good for anyone, what I am saying is that people like you are over-reacting and that your energy would much better serve the community with a focus on more serious health problems. Furthermore, your need to direct attention to my personal health of which you know nothing, rather than discuss the facts, shows that you are a misinformed opinionated dullard sheep ignorantly bleating.

mrlewish
5 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2011
The leading cause of death in Australia in 2009 was heart disease and Suicide (self-harm) continues to be a more frequent cause of death than lung cancer in Australia.

.. but hey dont let facts get in the way of your zealotry!


Guess what causes heart disease guess.

About 20% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking. That's because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease. That and along with an myriad of other diseases besides lung cancer is caused by smoking. Taken as a whole. - Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause more than 440,000 premature deaths each year in the United States (1). Of these premature deaths, about 40 percent are from cancer, 35 percent are from heart disease and stroke, and 25 percent are from lung disease. Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in this country.
bluehigh
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 04, 2011
Perhaps so. However the statistics available from government sources in Australia differ from your figures and the article was about the Australian response to tobacco smoking I did not check for the USA. You would also find it much more accepted generally among health professionals that highly fatty diets are the leading source of cardio-vascular disease with a common concern regarding lack of exercise as a significant contributor.
bluehigh
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2011
Deesky, If your idea of moderate consumption of alcohol is a useful health enhancer then why not use plain labels in small bottles available in a single serve per day? Same with fried fatty food. Drab green warppers that just say 'fast food' with a health warning and only one serve each week per person. Where does this interference in personal liberty end? Government supplied menu of foodstuffs and drinks in approved quantities only? Compulsory exercise as well? How do your plans affect the communities mental health? Perhaps a license to be exposed to sunlight for more than an hour each day in summer, after all Australia has very high skin cancer rates.

Why not admit that you just want a ban on smoking cause you dont like it?
Deesky
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 04, 2011
You should check the facts before joining the parade of uninformed zealots

I am well aware of 'the facts' and never jump to conclusions. You are arguing a different case than the specific case presented in this article. Broader generalizations here aren't helpful to this specific topic.
Deesky
4.6 / 5 (9) Jul 04, 2011
Why not admit that you just want a ban on smoking cause you dont like it?

Of course I don't like it. What's to like?

1) It's only legal (currently) due to historic factors.
2) It would never be approved today as a legal product.
3) It has zero health or other benefits.
4) It causes hundreds of health problems, including various cancers, heart disease, (keep going).
5) It's a burden on society in terms of healthcare costs and loss of work productivity.
6) It's highly addictive.
7) It harms many others besides the person smoking (2nd and 3rd hand smoke).
8) It affects unborn babies in the womb with lasting health effects throughout later life (recent study).

So, yeah, you're damned right I don't like it. It should be illegal, like other hard drugs.
bluehigh
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2011
Specifically, the Australian Government is intent on increasing the sovereign risk to investors through breaching an international treaty for a valuable brandname(s) trading in a lawful marketplace and is prepared to accept huge payouts in compensation to placate people who simply dont like tobacco smoking.
bluehigh
1.9 / 5 (9) Jul 04, 2011
1) It's only legal (currently) due to historic factors.
... people liked it for fun.
2) It would never be approved today as a legal product.
... neither would potatoes
3) It has zero health or other benefits.
... its a huge tax revenue
4) It causes hundreds of health problems, including various cancers, heart disease, (keep going).
... less than fast junk food (as already mentioned)
5) It's a burden on society in terms of healthcare costs and loss of work productivity.
... no, it more than pays for itself
6) It's highly addictive.
... so is TV
7) It harms many others besides the person smoking (2nd and 3rd hand smoke).
... alcohol is worse
8) It affects unborn babies in the womb with lasting health effects throughout later life (recent study)
... poverty and poor mental health is worse

Your opinions do not entitle you to interfere in others liberty and certainly do not validate the Australian Government in spending bucket loads in compensation money.
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (49) Jul 04, 2011
Why not admit that you just want a ban on smoking cause you dont like it?

Of course I don't like it. What's to like?

1) It's only legal (currently) due to historic factors.
2) It would never be approved today as a legal product.
3) It has zero health or other benefits.
4) It causes hundreds of health problems, including various cancers, heart disease, (keep going).
5) It's a burden on society in terms of healthcare costs and loss of work productivity.
6) It's highly addictive.
7) It harms many others besides the person smoking (2nd and 3rd hand smoke).
8) It affects unborn babies in the womb with lasting health effects throughout later life (recent study).

So, yeah, you're damned right I don't like it. It should be illegal, like other hard drugs.

So, yeah, you're damned right I don't like it. It should be illegal, like other hard drugs.


Everything here is also true of alcohol. Bluehigh has summoned no straw man. He is right. Alcohol IS the hardest drug.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (4) Jul 04, 2011
Actually, research has shown that cigarettes are a harder habit to kick than heroin. However, the Framers of our constitution guaranteed our right to a slow and agonizing death. I think Palin said that Paul Revere lit up one if by land, and lit up two if by sea.
FrankHerbert
0.8 / 5 (50) Jul 04, 2011
Alcohol withdrawal can kill a person. Never heard of heroin or nicotine doing so.

Let's look at analogs. There are whole classes of opiates that work well when prescribed properly and aren't inherently dangerous when not abused. Nicotine analogs exist and I believe some are even prescribed now for cessation.

What about ethanol's analogs?

Isopropanol: Hmm not that much worse than ethanol, but hey, ethanol is pretty much controlled poising to begin with. Drinking isopropanol is the same but more dangerous.

Methanol: "If ingested, for example, as little as 10 mL of pure methanol can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, and 30 ml is potentially fatal, although a fatal dose is typically 100125 mL (4 fl oz) (i.e. 12 ml/kg of pure methanol)." - Wikipedia

Alcohol also causes a great many cancers as well as being involved in most homicides and nearly all suicides. Alcohol is responsible for more murders than nicotine is for second-hand cancer deaths.
Telekinetic
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 04, 2011
"Alcohol withdrawal can kill a person. Never heard of heroin or nicotine doing so."
Heroin users often die of an overdose before attempting withdrawal, and ""Nicotine itself is extremely toxic. Ingesting about 40 milligrams of pure nicotine, or roughly the amount contained in two cigarettes, is fatal."
Poison is poison.
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (48) Jul 05, 2011
And who is going to ingest 40 milligrams of nicotine via tobacco?

Heroin users overdose because heroin is illegal and therefore the potency varies. Also carelessness. If the drug were of pharmaceutical quality, you wouldn't run into people taking way too much out of a new batch that is stronger than they are used to.

How many people die of alcohol poising even though alcohol content is mandated by law?

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