Saturday, March 10, 2012

Australia's Tobacco Plain Packaging - reaching the WTO's doorsteps

The WTO website reported on a Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Council Meeting held wherein, inter alia, the issue of Australia's Tobacco Plain Packaging legislation was discussed. I had earlier blogged about the issue here. 
"The Dominican Republic said that Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011 was inconsistent with the TRIPS Agreement, and that it would destroy the value of trademarks and limit information for consumers. It said it was not unaware of the health risks of tobacco but believed Australia could have chosen other measures that would have been consistent with the TRIPS Agreement. Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Ukraine and Zimbabwe also expressed concerns about compatibility of the Australian measure with the TRIPS Agreement.
 Australia said that the measure was adopted by the Australian Parliament last November, and that it would be implemented at retail level on 1 December 2012. It defended the measure as taken in the interest of public health, and based on a broad range of studies. Canada, New Zealand and Norway expressed general support for Australia. The World Health Organization, speaking as an observer, endorsed the Australian measure, noting that tobacco use kills 6 million people every year, and is a major cause of diseases such as cancer and diabetes."
Is the dispute slowing inching its way towards the WTO?  It would be interesting to see the stakeholder interests being played out here? Would the tobacco exporting countries be the main opponents to this legislation? What role would the large tobacco manufacturers and companies play? What role would public health activists, anti-tobacco activists and consumer groups play in this dispute? All in all, diverse set of stakeholders as usual.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...