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In Big Win for Global Health, Australia Defeats Philip Morris Challenge to Its Plain Cigarette Packaging Law

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
December 18, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – In a public health victory of global significance, Australia has won an international legal battle against Philip Morris to uphold its pioneering law requiring that cigarettes be sold in plain packaging. An arbitration tribunal today threw out Philip Morris’ challenge to the law under an investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong, ruling unanimously that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

This ruling is a big win for public health that not only upholds Australia’s law, but also provides a major boost for growing efforts around the world to require plain cigarette packaging, free of colorful logos and branding. It is also a powerful rebuke to Philip Morris, which has abused international trade and investment agreements to challenge strong tobacco control laws in Australia, Uruguay and other countries.

Tobacco companies have fiercely opposed plain cigarette packaging laws because they know these laws will work. In Australia, smoking rates have fallen at the fastest pace in more than two decades following the implementation of the plain packaging law and other tobacco control measures. Ireland, the United Kingdom and France have recently enacted plain packaging laws, and a growing number of countries are considering doing so. Today’s ruling adds to the momentum behind this innovative strategy to reduce tobacco use and the six million deaths it causes worldwide each year.