Removing the emperor’s clothes: Australia and tobacco plain packaging
In December 2012, Australia became the first nation in the world to require all tobacco products to be sold in standard ‘plain’ packs under the leadership of the then Health Minister Nicola Roxon. Tobacco companies have had global apoplexy about the law. Humiliated in the Australian High Court with a 6–1 defeat, their hopes now rest with deterring other nations from following suit by pursuing international trade law action.
With a combined 50 years of research and advocacy experience in tobacco control, Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman set out the evidence for the importance of plain packaging in striking at the heart of what remains of tobacco advertising. They examine the history of the idea, the tobacco industry’s frantic efforts to derail it, and the early evidence for its impact. Most importantly, they give tools to policy makers in other countries wanting to make the best case for plain packaging and to defend it from the inevitable attacks that will follow.
At its simplest, the story is one of the public good against commercial evil – governments and health authorities introducing an evidence-based measure in the face of ferocious opposition from a lethal and discredited, but still powerful industry. But the story has much more than this. It has heroes and villains, political chicanery, legal cases in the High Court and international tribunals, global companies promoting their claims through front groups, research versus junk science … smear campaigns, shadowy lobbyists, battles for media hearts and headlines, and dire warnings about Chinese criminal gangs. From the Foreword by Professor Mike Daube AO
About the authors
Simon Chapman AO is professor of public health at the University of Sydney. He was deputy editor then editor of Tobacco Control for 17 years and in 2003 won the American Cancer Society’s Luther Terry Medal for outstanding leadership in global tobacco control.
Dr Becky Freeman is a lecturer in public health at the University of Sydney. Since 2000, she has worked in tobacco control in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
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