Philip Morris takes legal action over Australian cigarette packaging laws

TOBACCO giant Philip Morris launched legal action yesterday against Australian laws forcing tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging from late next year, and other tobacco companies said they would soon follow suit.

The tough legislation cleared by parliament is being closely watched by governments considering similar moves in Europe, Canada and New Zealand.

Commenting on the plain packaging of tobacco products, Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said “The Australians have decided to act as global guinea pigs for plain packaging. The British government should certainly not follow them in pursuing this expensive public health policy given the complete lack of evidence for its effectiveness.”

It has angered tobacco firms worried it may set a global precedent and infringe on trademark rights. Under the law, cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars have to be sold in olive green packs free from branding, but carrying graphic health warnings, from December 2012.