Cigarette Packaging Laws Spark WTO Clash

Thursday, 05 Jul 2012 12:57 PM

By Maria Santos

LIGNET Analysis — Controversy over Australia’s new plain packaging laws for tobacco products is likely building up to a multinational confrontation within the World Trade Organization (WTO), the outcome of which will set the boundaries for tobacco packaging laws around the world.

Australia passed extraordinarily detailed regulations for tobacco packaging in November 2011, which have incited tensions among WTO members. After December 2012, all packages must be a “drab dark brown” and have a matte finish. In addition, all company names must be in the same font, size, and color.

Honduras and Ukraine say the regulations would damage their national tobacco industries and that they plan to use a number of WTO trade provisions to fight the Australian law. Australian officials have tried to downplay the threat of lawsuits, but as tobacco companies lobby hard to protest the law and more countries request to join the consultations, it is beginning to appear that this is the start of a major conflict in the WTO.

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Thursday, 05 Jul 2012 12:57 PM
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