Australia High Court Bans Brand Designs On Cigarette Packaging

The Australian High Court has decided that the inclusion of colorful logos, images, and brand designs on cigarette packaging is no longer allowed, according to The Associated Press. Instead, the court has ruled that cigarette manufacturers must use olive-colored packaging for their products, boxes which will also feature extremely graphic images of sick children, blind eyeballs, and mouths littered with cancer. The court’s philosophy: Make cigarette smoking as unattractive as humanly possible. Starring into a diseased mouth every time you light up should be enough to make anyone give up the habit.

Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, who issued a joint statement on the ruling, are pleased with the outcome:

“This is a victory for all those families who have lost someone to a tobacco-related illness. For anyone who has ever lost someone, this is for you. No longer when a smoker pulls out a packet of cigarettes will that packet be a mobile billboard.”

Tobacco companies, meanwhile, feel the High Court’s ruling could set a dangerous international precedent. Although major manufacturers believe the decision violates intellectual property rights and ultimately devalues their trademarks, it would seem Australia doesn’t share their sentiments on the subject.

Some cigarette companies believe that stripping their products of their distinctive markings will only allow the black market cigarette business to flourish. “Plain packaging will simply provide counterfeiters with a road map,” Imperial Tobacco spokeswoman Sonia Stewart explained in a statement. “The legislation will make the counterfeiters’ job both cheaper and easier by mandating exactly how a pack must look.”

McCabe Center for Law and Cancer director Jonathan Liberman hopes that other countries will soon follow suit. “It shows to everybody that the only way to deal with tobacco industry’s claims, saber rattling and legal threats is to stare them down in court,” he explained to the AP. “It’s a fantastic decision for public health in Australia.”

Australia banned tobacco advertising on television and radio in 1976. Since then, the country has also attempted to curb advertisements in print, on the internet, and inside retail outlets.