Public legislation is increasingly taking care of private wealth and public health. Frequently, this kind of regulations impacts into business of some big corporations. That is the case of Plan Packaging Laws that collision (again) into the cigarettes industry.
Purpose of Plain Packaging Laws
The idea of plain packaging is very simple: to make cigarette packs basic and similar, without any attractive packaging, in order to make the youngsters away from smoking. Plain packaging measures standardize cigarette packs: same size, shape and color; only bearing sanitary warnings. The elimination of cute packaging can prevent young people from picking up the habit of smoking.
On the other size, Tobacco Industry criticized the plan packaging laws because there is no evidence that this will happened and they claimed that will not be effecting. Instead, generic packaging makes all cigarette packs look likes and that could increase the black market for cigarettes.
In addition, the tobacco companies also claim that the law denies them to use their own designs, which they have created and invested in over long periods of time.
In 2011, a regulation from Australia, the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act, established that retail tobacco products should be sold in plain packaging. This act prevented the tobacco companies which manufactured, packaged and sold tobacco products from exploiting their intellectual property rights on the packaging of their tobacco products which they had previously benefited them (including the use of trademarks).
The plain packaging law was confronted by the cigarettes companies in Australia into high court, which ruled on behalf of the government, saying it had a right to regulate products in order to prevent and reduce harm.
Although the tobacco industry claimed that its property was effectively being seized, the court rejected the argument on the basis that the government was not acquiring any property. The tobacco industry has argued that the primary effect of the law has been to encourage sales of black market cigarettes.
Some countries, like Cuba and Ukraine have challenged the Australian laws by filing requests for consultations through the World Trade Organization.
Ireland and British Experience
Earlier this year, Ireland has become the first country in Europe to adopt Plain Packaging cigarette packets. The base of the decision is that standardized packaging will take away the illusions created by attractive cigarette packets and replace them with shocking images showing the consequences of smoking.
On May of this year, the United Kingdom Parliament voted to introduce the same controversial law that will effective next year.
Removing branding from cigarette packets will succeed in deterring smokers, according to research published in a scientific journal.
Tobacco companies announce that they will sue the United Kingdom government for the approving of the Plain Packaging legislation that ban branding on cigarette packs. They assured that the regulation is a strike on private property and it attacked consumer’s right to be informed of what they are buying. They argue that the measure didn’t take into account values such as private property, equal treatment and consumer choice.
Packaging is the visible face of the product and when regulations try to limit them, sure will generate legal troubles.