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Tobacco giant sues Australia over packaging law

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By John Glenday, Reporter

November 21, 2011 | 2 min read

Leading cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris has launched legal action against the Australian government over a new law which will make plain packaging mandatory for all cigarettes from December 2012.

From that date all cigarettes must be packaged in plain olive-brown packets plastered with gory health warnings.

It has been hailed by the government as a “momentous public health measure” but Morris see things rather differently – claiming they breach a bilateral investment treaty with Hong Kong.

Morris contends that the measure will hit their profits and see a wave of fake brands enter the market and is calling for either a suspension of the law or compensation for lost revenue.

If Morris fail in their action the all tobacco brands must be distinguished solely by their brand and product name in standardised position, font size, colour and style.

Nicola Roxon , Australia's Minister for Health and Ageing, said while the tobacco industry was "fighting to protect its profits, we are fighting to protect lives.

"We know that packaging remains one of the last powerful marketing tools for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers to their deadly products.”

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