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Is Australia Prohibiting Branding on Packs of Cigarettes?

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With the recent Australia's High Court dismissal of the appeal by tobacco companies against a law requiring all cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging, Australia is now on track to become the first country to prohibit branding on packs of cigarettes.

Reports say Australia's court has dismissed a legal challenge from the tobacco industry targeting the country's new restrictive tobacco marketing laws.

The ruling means that from December 1 companies will be banned from displaying brand designs on cigarette packets. The packaging will require only olive-green packaging.

Today, the World Health Organization strongly welcomed the "landmark" ruling.

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Processed tobacco pressed into flakes for pipe smoking. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called on other countries to follow Australia's example and join in the global fight to cut deaths from smoking.

"With Australia's victory, public health enters a brave new world of tobacco control." - Ms. Chan

She notes that the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products would be "a highly effective way to counter industry's ruthless marketing tactics."

The lawsuits filed by Big Tobacco look like the death throes of a desperate industry, Ms. Chan added.

Ms. Chan also expressed hope that the decision would set off a global legal "domino effect" on tobacco related issues.

In June this year, killing almost six million people every year, tobacco use is growing fastest in low-income countries, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

Tobacco takes a "pervasive, heavy toll," hindering development and worsening poverty."

Stepping up efforts to control it which could kill up to one billion people this century, top United Nations official has called on governments to resist the increasingly aggressive steps taken by the tobacco industry to undermine efforts to reduce this global scourge.

Among the tools the world has to fight tobacco use and protect public health is the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. With 175 parties, it became one of the most rapidly embraced treaties in UN history after it entered into force in 2005.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that 80 percent of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and over one-third of cancers can be prevented by eliminating the risk from tobacco use, the abuse of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. As public health leaders around the world have concluded, prevention - including tobacco prevention - must be the cornerstone of efforts to reduce non-communicable diseases.

UN asserts that reducing tobacco use must be a global priority and calls on nations to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world's only public health treaty. Measures called for by the treaty include tobacco tax increases, strong warning labels on tobacco products, smoke-free laws that protect against secondhand smoke and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. In particular, the draft declaration recognizes that "price and tax measures are an effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption."

Because the toll of tobacco is so high and the cost of addressing the tobacco epidemic is so low, nations have no excuse for not acting. Implementing these tobacco control measures is critical to winning the global fight against non-communicable diseases and to reducing the one billion deaths tobacco use will otherwise cause this century.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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