Fed Gov's plain packaging law a winner - ALA

15th Aug 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance today congratulated the Federal Government on its landmark High Court win upholding the constitutionality of its plain packaging tobacco legislation against the challenge of tobacco companies.

“The Federal Government’s plain packaging laws, set to come in to effect in December, are a world first with countries such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom likely to soon follow suit,” Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Anthony Kerin, said today.

“What remains concerning is that the government’s financial investment arm, Future Fund, is now investing $210 million in 12 different tobacco companies – an increase of 40% from the previous year.

"The Australian public deserves to know why its sovereign wealth fund is continuing to invest in international companies that have an interest in overturning Australia’s new plain packaging legislation via international litigation,” Mr Kerin said.

“In April this year, for example, it was revealed that companies such as Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco (BAT) were funding the legal costs of countries such as the Ukraine and Honduras to challenge our new laws through the World Trade Organisation,” he said.

Mr Kerin said, as the Attorney-General had observed, big tobacco continued to use every trick in the playbook to fight legitimate public health measurers that saved lives in order to protect its own profits.

“Surely now is the time for the Future Fund to end its support for big tobacco and for the Fund’s new chairman to address this contradiction,” Mr Kerin said.

“According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco is responsible for a global death rate of almost six million people each year, including 600,000 from passive exposure to cigarette smoke. Of these people, one in ten is a child and 15,000 are Australians. Its health implications cost Australia $31 billion a year.”

Tags: Health, medicine and law