26 Apr 2014

WTO considers tobacco packaging law

11:05 am on 26 April 2014

A challenge to Australian laws forcing cigarette companies to sell their products in plain packets will begin in May at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

Woman smoking.


Since late 2012, tobacco products in Australia can be sold only in olive-coloured packets, with brands printed in small letters.

Britain, Ireland and New Zealand are also drafting similar legislation. But the New Zealand Government says it will not pass the legislation until the results of the case are known, which should be in November.

The action against Australia was brought by Cuba, Ukraine, Indonesia, Honduras and Dominican Republic who say the legislation is a barrier to trade and restricts intellectual property.

WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo will appoint three panellists by 5 May to judge the dispute.

Any party to the dispute can appeal their ruling.