Australia Insists on Plain Cigarette Packs

By McCarton Ackerman 08/15/12

Despite legal challenges from tobacco companies, all brands and logos are set to be removed from packaging later this year.

Aussie cigarettes may soon look like this.
Photo via

A decision announced today by Australia's highest court—despite tobacco companies' protests—could have a knock-on effect for other countries, including the US. It upholds a new law will require all logos and brand colors to be removed from cigarette packaging—which will have to be plain olive green in color and will feature graphic anti-smoking warnings. Major tobacco manufacturers like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco tried but failed to derail the law, which was passed by the government last year and is set to take effect on December 1. The government believes the plain packaging will reduce the number of smokers in Australia, boosting public health. But tobacco manufacturers say the law is unconstitutional and violates their intellectual property rights. "It's still a bad law that will only benefit organized crime groups which sell illegal tobacco on our streets," says Scott McIntyre, a spokesman for British American Tobacco (BAT) Australia. And of course they fear a drastic reduction in profits—not only in the relatively small Australian market, but in larger markets that may follow. Several other countries including India, New Zealand and the UK, as well as some US states, have been looking to follow in Australia's groundbreaking footsteps. However, the American Legislative Exchange Council launched a worldwide campaign against plain cigarette packaging last month. 

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.