The Global Tobacco Epidemic, the Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products, and the World Trade Organization
In response to complaints by Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Indonesia, the government of Australia has defended the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products in the World Trade Organization. This article focuses upon the legal defence of Australia before the WTO Panel. A key part of its defence has been the strong empirical evidence for the efficacy of plain packaging of tobacco products as a legitimate health measure designed to combat the global tobacco epidemic. Australia has provided a convincing case that plain packaging of tobacco products is compatible with the TRIPS Agreement 1994, particularly the clauses relating to the aims and objectives of the agreement; the requirements in respect of trade mark law; and the parallel measures in relation to access to essential medicines. Australia has also defended the consistency of plain packaging of tobacco products with the TBT Agreement 1994. Moreover, Australia has provided clear reasons for why the plain packaging of tobacco products is compatible with GATT. The position of Australia has been reinforced by a number of third parties — such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Canada, and others — which have also been pioneers in tobacco control and public health. Australia’s leadership in respect of tobacco control and plain packaging of tobacco products is further supported by larger considerations in respect of international public health law, human rights, and sustainable development.