The long-term health of young Australians is the real winner from today’s High Court ruling in favour of the federal government’s tobacco plain packaging laws, Cancer Council Australia said today (15 August).
Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said the court’s rejection of the tobacco industry’s challenge against plain packaging was a landmark ruling that put public health before vested commercial interests.
“The tobacco companies threw everything at plain packaging, which just goes to show how powerful they think glossy tobacco packaging is as a marketing tool,” Professor Olver said.
“More than 20 years of research shows that slick tobacco packaging is particularly powerful for attracting young people.
“When the laws on plain packaging come into effect from December, young Australians will no longer be lured into smoking by the flashy look of a slick, branded pack.”
Professor Olver said the ruling would be instructive for New Zealand, the UK and India, with those countries exploring the option of plain packaging as a public health measure.
“We were always confident that plain packaging would reduce the appeal of smoking to young people,” he said. “Now we know it can hold up against mercenary legal challenges.”
Professor Olver said one in five Australian cancer deaths are caused by smoking.
“A product that is addictive and kills so many of its users should not be available in bright, branded packs,” he said.
“We hope other nations follow Australia’s lead and eliminate the use of tobacco packaging as a marketing tool, to help reduce the global tobacco death toll – which is on track to reach half a billion people this century.”
Professor Olver acknowledged Australia’s federal parliament for its broad support of plain packaging and, in particular, the former health minister and current attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, for her determination in developing the legislation and defending it against the tobacco industry challenges.