WEDNESDAY 15 AUG 2012 10:50 AM


Cigarette companies market their product using unique and easily-recognisable branding, marred only slightly by health warnings and the ever-popular ‘Smoking Kills’ notice. In Australia, however, the High Court decided today to ban branding on tobacco products.

The decision seals up the joint lawsuit brought against the severe 2011 Australian law by American, British and Japanese companies protesting the decision on the grounds of intellectual property.

This month, tobacco displays in the United Kingdom are banned in large stores, with a similar measure imposed on smaller retailers by 2015. The Government is expected to make a decision about Britain’s stance toward cigarette branding by December following a Cancer Research UK-led petition and campaign supporting plain packaging.

The new law calls for uniform, olive drab packaging featuring large health warnings and graphic images of the effects of smoking. This acts as a harsh blow to companies that rely on their strong trademark and brand logos to compete in the saturated market.

British American Tobacco, one of the companies involved in the suit said in a statement, “British American Tobacco will continue to take every action necessary to protect our valuable brands and our right to compete in global markets as a legitimate commercial business selling a legal product, based on the full legal use of our intellectual property rights."

Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek lauded the decision as a victory for promoting good health.

They said in a statement, “No longer when a smoker pulls out a packet of cigarettes will that packet be a mobile billboard.”