Australia’s highest court has ruled that new laws requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging without company logos do not violate the country’s constitution.
The court on Wednesday ruled against four tobacco companies that challenged the law, saying the measure violated their intellectual property rights.
The companies include British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris. They argue the new law will also make it easier to counterfeit cigarettes.
Beginning in December, cigarettes in Australia will be sold in uniform, olive green packages with graphic health warnings.
The government hopes the changes will help reduce the number of smokers in Australia, where smoking-related illnesses kill about 15,000 people each year.
Australian Attorney General Nicolas Roxon praised the ruling, saying it is a “watershed moment for tobacco control around the world.”
Australia is facing a potential challenge at the World Trade Organization over the new law. Ukraine, Honduras and the Dominican Republic have argued the plain packaging requirements will unfairly restrict trade.
(For years, Australian cigarette packaging has included large graphic health warnings, photo by foboat/flickr.com)