Monday, 21 November 2011

Philip Morris Sues Australian Government Over Tobacco Laws

THE GUARDIAN: Tobacco company takes legal action against legislation forcing cigarettes to be sold in drab plain packaging

Tobacco company Philip Morris has launched legal action against Australian laws forcing tobacco products to be sold in drab, plain packaging from late next year.

Australia's parliament has passed laws compelling cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars to be sold in plain olive packs from December 2012.

While tobacco exporting countries including Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Ukraine have warned they may challenge the law under world trade rules, tobacco companies including British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco have said they may take action in Australia's high court.

Philip Morris said it's lawsuit could trigger compensation claims worth billions of dollars.

"The government has passed this legislation despite being unable to demonstrate that it will be effective at reducing smoking and has ignored the widespread concerns raised in Australia and internationally regarding the serious legal issues associated with plain packaging," Philip Morris spokeswoman Anne Edwards said in a statement.

The action is being brought by Philip Morris Asiaof Hong Kong, the owner of the Australian affiliate, through a notice of arbitration under Australia's bilateral investment treaty with Hong Kong. » | Reuters in Canberra | Monday, November 21, 2011