Australia has become the first country in the world to insist that cigarettes be sold only in plain packs. No logos, no slogans , NADA.
"We have taken on Big Tobacco and we have won", said Attorney-General Nicola Roxon of the High Court decision to uphold plain packaging laws.The ruling takes effect on December 1.
The new-look cigarette packs will be sold with no company logos and with the same font for all brands on a dark brown background. Health warnings will cover 90% of the back of the pack and 70% of the front.
Ironically the plain pack tobacco triumph has prompted warnings of a price war , resulting in cheaper cigarettes, said the Sydney Morning Herald with low cost brands pressuring sales of more popular brands.
Britain and New Zealand are among countries whose governments have indicated interest in bringing in similar legislation.
The Australian court rejected a claim from Big tobacco - Japan Tobacco , British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco Group - that the government had illegally seized their intellectual property by barring the display of trademarks on packs.
Media companies charged with promoting cigarette sales face immense challenges with the new legislation
The judges gave no reasons for the decision and said these will be published later.
The government in New Zealand has watched the Australian developments with "huge interest," said Tariana Turia, associate minister of health.
"This sends a strong statement that governments do have the right to develop legislation within their own territories," Ms. Turia said.
Consultations on a U.K. government plan to enforce standardised packaging for tobacco products ended last week. The International Chamber of Commerce was among bodies raising concerns.
Plain packs in the US face a First Amendment hurdle. Cigarette makers say the constitution protects the right to freedom of expression from government interference.
"Big tobacco threw everything they could to try and stop this reform," Roxon and Australian Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said in a statement today. "The message to the rest of the world is that big tobacco can be taken on and beaten."