Cigarette companies blowing smoke

Friday, 27 May 2011

Thursday 26 May, 2011: Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven has dismissed cigarette producers’ claims that enforcing plain cigarette packaging will infringe upon intellectual property and trademark rights.

If the Government policy goes ahead, cigarette makers are threatening legal action and the payment of billions in compensation by taxpayers.

"The very high likelihood is the Government would win any constitutional challenge based on acquisition of property," Professor Craven said.

"It doesn't go to the issue of acquisition - you're just regulating something in the public interest."

In a world-first, the federal government plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging in an attempt to reduce smoking. 

However, the policy has been met with resistance by major cigarette producers including British American Tobacco Australia (BATA), which has attacked the plain packaging, claiming there is no proof the policy, aimed at discouraging smoking, would work. 

Instead, BATA argued it would in fact lead to an increase in smoking rates, particularly among children, because of follow-on price cuts.

Professor Craven is one of Australia’s most noted authorities on constitutional and public law.