Australia defiant on WTO cigarette challenge

Australia said Friday it would "vigorously defend" itself against complaints about its plan for plain cigarette packaging made by Honduras and Ukraine to the World Trade Organisation.

The action was launched by Ukraine at the WTO in March and Honduras joined the following month, according to the arbiter.

"We'll be vigorously defending any WTO actions -- our steps aren't anti-trade, they're anti-cancer," a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon told AFP.

While Honduras is a tobacco producer, the motives for opposition by Ukraine -- a nation of with a large but no direct trade with Australia -- were unclear.

If the dispute cannot be resolved through consultation Ukraine and Honduras can request formal adjudication through a WTO panel, which could force Canberra to scrap the legislation.

The cigarettes packaging plan is also currently subject to a challenge by several tobacco giants in Australia's High Court. Hearings concluded last month but a ruling is yet to be delivered.

The government has said it is confident it will see off the challenge to the law, which will see all cigarettes sold in the same drab olive-green packets with graphic from December 1.

Australia is the first country to mandate plain packaging, but the ground-breaking move is being closely watched by other countries considering similar approaches, including Britain and Canada.

Neighbouring New Zealand last month announced it had agreed "in principle" to go ahead with laws mandating similar plain packaging, as part of a wider strategy to stamp out smoking in the country by 2025.

Australia estimates it has 15,000 deaths each year from tobacco-related illnesses.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia takes on big tobacco firms in court

Apr 17, 2012

Australia said it was confident of seeing off a court challenge Tuesday by big tobacco firms over plain-packaging for cigarettes, in a test case being watched by governments around the world.

Philip Morris challenges plain packs in Australia

Dec 20, 2011

Global tobacco giant Philip Morris Tuesday stepped up its legal campaign against an Australian law banning logos and branding from cigarette packs, saying it had taken its case to the High Court.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments