The Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products

QUT Law Review, 17 (2), November 2017

179 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2018 Last revised: 10 Sep 2018

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Date Written: December 31, 2017


Editor - Professor Matthew Rimmer (QUT)

This special edition of the QUT Law Review considers the international debate over the introduction of Australia's pioneering plain packaging of tobacco products. This collection explores the various legal issues raised by tobacco control under public health law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international law, international trade, investor-state dispute settlement, human rights, and sustainable development. Australian scholars consider Australia's legal defence of plain packaging of tobacco products in an array of arenas - including the High Court of Australia, an investor-state dispute settlement tribunal, and the World Trade Organization. International experts consider the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products in New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and other pioneering public health countries. This collection also considers the adoption of new complementary tobacco control measures - such as tobacco divestment initiatives.


The Hon. Nicola Roxon (Victoria University)

It gives me great pleasure to write a forward on this topic at a time when there is such a groundswell of international support for plain packaging of tobacco products. World No Tobacco today in 2016 had as its tag line “Get ready for plain packaging” and the world’s health ministers are doing just that.

When Australia became the first country in the world to remove all colours and logos on tobacco packs in 2011 – recognising their allure to young new smokers – the tobacco industry tried every move in their book to stop us. Lobbying, donations, advertising campaigns, threats, dodgy research, front groups, overblown claims and legal action dominated our political debate for two years. When all these local manoeuvres failed, the industry switched its effort to ensuring we were the only country to take this step.

Writing in November 2016, it is clear that those efforts, both local and international, have manifestly failed. Country after country – France, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Norway, New Zealand – are implementing plain packaging, passing their laws or consulting with the community before introduction and many more countries will move this way in the coming months and years.

Plain packaging of tobacco products is now truly an international movement. It is an epidemic of the best sort, as countries catch on to its value, purpose and ease of implementation. We will now see its introduction spread like wildfire around the world.

When we announced the introduction of plain packaging in Australia, it was a world first.

The Government I was part of has received much praise for our resolve and foresight to see this through, from smooth implementation to the great early results already showing significant impact in the reduction of smoking rates across the country. ...

(1) 'Tobacco Plain Packaging in Australia: JT International v Commonwealth and Beyond'

Dr Catherine Bond (UNSW)

(2) 'Regulatory Chill: Learnings from New Zealand's Plain Packaging Tobacco Law'

Professor Jane Kelsey (University of Auckland)

(3) 'Property and Proportionality: Evaluating Ireland's Tobacco Packaging Legislation'

Dr Eoin O’Dell (Trinity College Dublin)

(4) 'The Tobacco Industry's Challenge to the United Kingdom's Standardised Packaging Legislation - Global Lessons for Tobacco Control Policy?'

Professor Jonathan Griffiths (Queen Mary, University of London)

(5) 'Making the Case for Canada to Join the Tobacco Plain Packaging Revolution'

Dr Becky Freeman (University of Sydney)

(6) 'Investor-State Dispute Settlement and Tobacco Control: Implications for Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Consumption-Control Measures'

Dr Hope Johnson (QUT)

(7) 'The Global Tobacco Epidemic, The Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products, and the World Trade Organization'

Professor Matthew Rimmer (QUT)

(8) 'Tobacco-Free Investment: Harnessing the Power of the Finance Industry in Comprehensive Tobacco Control'

Dr Bronwyn King, Clare Payne, and Emily Stone (Tobacco-Free Futures)

Keywords: Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products, Graphic Health Warnings, Intellectual Property, Public Health, Tobacco Control, Human Rights, International Trade, Investor-State Dispute Settlement, Sustainable Development, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, WIPO

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, The Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products (December 31, 2017). QUT Law Review, 17 (2), November 2017, Available at SSRN:

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000

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