Another country takes up plain tobacco packaging

plain packaging, cigarette packet in front of baby

Uruguay is the latest country to institute tobacco control measures such as plain packs, after it won an international landmark legal battle against big tobacco company Philip Morris.

Graphic warnings covering 80% of the cigarette pack, and the prevention of the use of terms such as “light” and “mild” and colours to falsely imply that some cigarettes are less harmful will now be put into effect to reduce tobacco consumption, says Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) past president Professor Mike Daube.

The ruling by a World Bank arbitration tribunal ends a six-year legal battle in which the Philip Morris company tried to bully a small country out of strong tobacco legislation.

“This win will encourage other countries around the world to take on the tobacco industry with measures such as plain packaging,” says Professor Daube, who chaired the Australian Government’s expert committee that recommended plain packaging.

Smaller countries like Uruguay have the determination to win because it will be best for their country. Philip Morris will need to think twice about taking on other countries in legal battles,”

 “This is a crucial win for global health. It confirms the sovereign rights of all governments to protect the public’s health. Uruguay refused to be intimidated by Big Tobacco, and has been completely vindicated. It is also an important vindication for the Australian government, which set the ball rolling with plain packaging, which has now been followed by several other countries,” says Professor Daube.

“This case is particularly important as tobacco companies have been using trade and investment treaties to challenge tobacco control legislation.

“They have lost, will even have to pay Uruguay’s costs, and other countries will take enormous heart from this confirmation that the rights of governments override those of the tobacco industry.”

Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia and President of the World Federation of Public Health Associations congratulates the Government of Uruguay and its President, Dr Tabare Vasquez on their determination to stand up to Big Tobacco.

“This is a historic win for global public health,” he says.

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