16 Aug 2012

Tobacco industry to fight packaging moves

1:00 pm on 16 August 2012

A tobacco company representative says the industry is determined to stand up against moves to impose plain packaging on cigarettes on the grounds they would violate the rules of intellectual property.

An Australian court has upheld the Federal Government's plan to impose plain packaging of tobacco products, rejecting a legal challenge from the tobacco industry.

The High Court in Australia on Wednesday rejected the industry's constitutional challenge to the plain packaging laws, clearing the way for the new-look packets to hit Australian shelves in December.

British American Tobacco spokesman Nick Booth says the challenge in Australia was based on constitutional law there which differs from New Zealand's legal system.

Mr Booth told Nine to Noon the Australian government faces other legal challenges to its plans, including the claim that plain packaging would breach trade agreements.

He said that if plain packaging is brought in, companies will use other devices to attract customers.

"Ultimately, if we're not able to use our brands to compete, we'll be forced to compete on things like price, which could actually frustrate the intended goals of plain packaging."

The New Zealand Government has agreed in principle to introduce plain packaging for tobacco, depending on the outcome of a consultation process.

Michael Colhoun of anti-smoking lobby ASH believes it's only a matter of time until plain packaging is introduced in New Zealand now that Cabinet has agreed in principle to the move.

"It is just a matter of time, and we think there is definitely public support for this measure," he told Nine to Noon

The ABC reports that Britain and India are also looking at following Australia's example.