Today the Australian government passed a new law requiring all cigarettes to be sold in plain packages without branding, in an effort to discourage young people from picking up the smoking habit. Within an hour of the announcement, Philip Morris, one of the world's largest tobacco companies, stated that it plans to sue the Australian government, arguing that the new legislation will have a negative impact on sales.
The new packaging was proposed back in April, 2010. It will feature a large-scale health warning with a graphic image, while the brand name and variety will be listed in plain text on an olive background at the bottom of the pack. The action was praised by the World Health Organization (WHO), which called the measures "a new gold standard for the regulation of tobacco products".
Industry representatives have been attacking the proposed legislation for some time, and employing some questionable logic. Scott McIntyre, British American Tobacco Australia's (BATA) regional communications manager, actually suggested that the new law would lead to more children purchasing cigarettes, instead of fewer: "We can't advertise, so the branding is the only way of differentiating between cigarettes. You take away that, then you're left with price. So prices are likely to go down making tobacco more accessible to young people". Despite these industry protests and the threatened lawsuit, legal experts believe the legislation will go ahead as planned.