Public Health and Plain Packaging of Cigarettes

Public Health and Plain Packaging of Cigarettes

Legal Issues

Edited by Tania Voon, Andrew D. Mitchell, Jonathan Liberman and Glyn Ayres

The book offers an in-depth exploration of relevant domestic and international legal questions in fields such as intellectual property, constitutional law, health, trade and investment. The authors’ analysis sheds light on broader questions relating to the capacity of governments to regulate tobacco products and the tobacco industry, and to regulate in the interests of public health more generally. The answers to these questions are of vital interest not only to Australia but also to the international community, with states’ regulatory sovereignty increasingly being challenged in local and international courts and tribunals.

Chapter 3: Plain Tobacco Packaging in Australia: The Historical and Social Context

Jonathan Liberman, Michelle Scollo, Becky Freeman and Simon Chapman

Subjects: law - academic, health law, intellectual property law, international economic law, trade law, international investment law, public international law


Jonathan Liberman, Michelle Scollo, Becky Freeman and Simon Chapman I. BACKGROUND On 6 July 2011, the Australian Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, introduced the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 (Cth) (‘the bill’) into the Australian House of Representatives. The bill requires that, by 1 July 2012, all tobacco products sold in Australia be of plain appearance and sold in ‘plain packaging’. As the Minister stated in her second reading speech, the bill is ‘a world-first initiative’.1 Tobacco smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in Australia, responsible for over 15 000 deaths annually2 and total social costs of more than AU$31.5 billion.3 Plain packaging – first announced in April 20104 – is regarded by the Australian Government to be a ‘crucial step’ in Australia’s anti-smoking action plan,5 which also includes a 25 per cent excise increase,6 further investment in anti-smoking social marketing, and legislation to restrict tobacco advertising and promotion on the internet.7 Through this plan, Australia aims 1 Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 6 July 2011, 7708 (Nicola Roxon). 2 David J Collins and Helen M Lapsley, ‘The Costs of Tobacco, Alcohol and Illicit Drug Abuse to Australian Society in 2004/05’ (Department of Health and Ageing, 2008) 40. 3 Ibid 65. 4 Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan and Nicola Roxon, ‘Anti-Smoking Action’ (Media release, Office of the Prime Minister, 29 April 2010). 5 Explanatory Memorandum, Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 (Cth) 1. 6 See Excise Tariff Amendment (Tobacco) Bill 2010 (Cth)...

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