• Plan for Australia on the gray box call
The tobacco industry provides legal advice in Ukraine and Honduras in their problems in Australia, a new package of tobacco rules of the World Trade Organization, the Australian Health Minister Jane Halton said on Tuesday. “We know that the tobacco companies, because they recognized it, provide legal advice to members of the WTO in order to induce them to take action against Australia,” she said.
Halton spoke at the event on the sidelines of the annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called for intensified “fight tooth and nail against one of the worst enemies of public health – tobacco industry.” Australia plans to introduce tough new rules for the tobacco packaging from 1 October, which will force manufacturers to abandon various colorful ads and sell their cigarettes uniformly gray bags with no decoration. Other tobacco products such as cigars should follow this example, on December 1.
“We believe that dealing with one of the last forms of tobacco advertising in this country – a package,” said Halton. “We are very confident that we can resist these attacks, our government will not be intimidated.” Smoking rates in Australia fell to 15.1 percent in 2010 to some 30.5 per cent in 1998. “Our goal over the next few years will reach 10 percent and, hopefully, lower,” she said.
Honduras and Ukraine to the WTO to challenge the motion, saying it was unfair to restrict trade, although no country has a significant share of the Australian market. “We are far from both countries, and we are very, very little trade with them,” said Halton. And the plaintiffs have “requested consultations” with Australia, the first step in WTO litigation. The first round of talks was held last month, she said.
“We believe that some people in the meeting were British American Tobacco lawyers,” she told Reuters, adding that she was not aware of any date of the second round. The representative of the British American Tobacco has confirmed Reuters, the company provides assistance to address the WTO, but can not confirm that BAT lawyers were directly involved in the negotiations.
If the case is not settled by negotiation, Honduras and Ukraine can ask the WTO to establish a group of arbitrators to judge the dispute. If Australia were to lose, it may be forced to cancel some of its rules on tobacco products. Two trade dress, attracted a large number of countries as a third party observer disputes, and some diplomats see them as tests in the fight against tobacco companies to stop the global flow control, dramatically tightened the rules for the sale of cigarettes over the past decade.
British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris began to High Court challenges to Australian laws, saying they violate its trademark rights. Halton told Reuters, that it is expected that the Supreme Court decision could come in October. She also said that health should be taken into account in trade in the future. “When we negotiate new trade agreements, we must be very clear that the right to health of our society is of paramount importance. We will make sure we live up to our obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” she said, referring to the WHO treaty ratified by 174 countries.
Philip Morris “Chief Financial Officer Hermann Waldemer said he expects other countries to challenge the rules in the WTO, Australia, according to transcripts provided by the analyst calls a Thomson Reuters events st. Philip Morris spokesman told Reuters earlier this month that the firm was established to support the government, the problem of Australia’s simple packaging, but it does not support Ukraine in its complaint to the WTO.