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Aussie tobacco law upheld

International
London – A landmark Australian law on restrictive tobacco packaging has been upheld at the World Trade Organisation after a 5-year legal battle.

This is according to Bloomberg, which on Thursday reported the news, citing two people familiar with the situation.

Such a ruling from the WTO has been widely anticipated as giving a green light for other countries to roll out similar laws, not only on tobacco but also on alcohol and unhealthy foods.

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A photo illustration shows a smoker with a pack of cigarettes featuring restrictive tobacco packaging outside a Sydney office building in Australia

The Australian law goes much further than advertising bans and graphic health warnings enforced in many other countries.

The rules, introduced in 2010, ban flashy logos and distinctive-coloured cigarette packaging in favour of drab olive packets that look more like military or prison issue, with brand names printed in small standardised fonts.

Read also: BAT may close SA cigarette plant

Tobacco firms said their trademarks were being infringed, and Cuba, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Indonesia complained the rules constituted an illegal barrier to trade.

Although the WTO’s final ruling is not expected until July, a confidential draft said the laws were a legitimate health measure.

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