Plain Jane – cigarette packaging loses its edge

The High Court has upheld a law that will make cigarette packaging as unglamorous as possible.

The Tobacco Plain Packaging Act, forces cigarette companies to remove brand colours and logos from packaging. From December 1, cigarette packaging will be a generic olive green slapped with graphic health warnings.

Five tobacco giants including British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco challenged the law, arguing that branding and logos amount to valuable intellectual property and by legislating for their removal, without compensation, the Government was in breach of constitutionally enshrined property rights. The High Court disagreed.

The law is the first of its kind to enact recommendations by the World Health Organisation and has been closely watched by Britain, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and India.

Disgruntled tobacco manufacturers have described the law as bad, arguing that it will only benefit organised crime groups selling counterfeit, illegal tobacco on the street.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek described the law as a victory for all those families who have lost someone to a tobacco related illness.

However, with no evidence to prove that plain packaging will reduce the amount of cigarettes consumed, some Health experts are describing the law as too soft, calling for a comprehensive ban on the sale of cigarettes.

Studies show that plain packaging limits the ability of tobacco companies to differentiate and promote their brand. Leading to customers opting for cheaper options but not out of smoking all together.

The CEO of VicHealth Jerril Rechter summed up the aesthetic victory in a message to cigarette companies: “You’re not cool, or popular, or even stylish any more. You’re dull, and passé and, quite frankly, nobody likes you, not even your own customers.”

The High Court will publish it’s full reasoning at a later date.

Contact Bayston Group for further details.