Australia Leads the Way on Laws Regulating Tobacco Packagingby Megan Smith
If you ask your older parents or grandparents about attitudes towards smoking in their generation, they’ll probably say that everyone did it and that it was even seen as glamorous. Tobacco has played an influential role in societies all over the world for centuries now, serving as a social activity, stress relief, or just something “cool” to do.
But now that people realize that about 5.4 million deaths a year are caused by tobacco products, the thrill has been replaced by never-ending anti-smoking ads and lobbying groups trying to impose legislation against the tobacco companies.
Even so, the worldwide fight against tobacco may have made a giant step forward Thursday as legislators in Australia have just announced new draft laws against tobacco packaging set to be enacted January 1, 2012.
Under these progressive laws, tobacco packaging would have to be standardized in regards to logos, branding, colors, and promotional text. More importantly, health warnings would need to be present on 75% of space on the front and 90% on the back. Proponents of the laws believe that such strict regulations would take away all the appeal of smoking and discourage purchases because of the heavy advertisements of risk.
Major tobacco companies such as British American Tobacco intend to fight the new laws tooth and nail, claiming a violation of intellectual property rights and international trademark laws. Though the laws will mostly be battled over in the court system, this legislation represents an aggressive act against the tobacco companies that could be replicated in other countries around the world.