SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, HERALD SUN, THE AUSTRALIAN, (Australia), BBC (UK)

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Australia’s High Court of Justice has upheld a new government law on mandatory packaging for cigarettes that remove brand colors and logos from packaging, reports the BBC.

The new law mandates that cigarettes be sold in drab olive-green packs and ban all commercial logos. Packs will be distinguishable only by printed brand names in a standard font and size, according to The Australian. Large graphic health warnings will dominate the packs. The new law will go into effect in December.

British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco took their fight against the green boxes to the High Court in April, reports the Herald Sun.

The cigarette companies argued the Government was effectively taking their property without compensation by stopping them from using their trademarks. They also argued that the Government was taking their property for anti-smoking “advertising” and should pay for the privilege.

But to make their case, says the Sydney Morning Herald, the companies had to show that the government gained a measurable benefit as a consequence, which is apart from the claimed benefits to population health. The High Court responded that the companies’ case could not succeed unless it could be shown that the government had taken property from them.

British American Tobacco Australia said it was “extremely disappointed” the High Court had upheld “a bad piece of the law,” adding “at the end of the day no one wins from plain packaging except the criminals who sell illegal cigarettes around Australia.” The company believes that “the illegal cigarette black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy.”

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek declared in the Sydney Morning Herald: “This is a victory for all those families who have lost someone to a tobacco related illness,” adding “No longer when a smoker pulls out a packet of cigarettes will that packet be a mobile billboard.” According to the ministers, plain packaging is a vital measure, “which removes the last way for big tobacco to promote its deadly products.”

The case will be of enormous interest around the world as other jurisdictions such as the UK and New Zealand contemplate plain packaging laws, says the Herald Sun.

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