Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 25, 2012 11:55 AM
The good folks of Australia are battling hard against the world’s powerful tobacco companies and they aren’t getting a ton of support from some of their brethren across the globe. Australia is planning to ban branded packaging for cigarettes and cigars, and big tobacco isn't having any of it.
The word from Reuters is that “the tobacco industry is providing legal advice to Ukraine and Honduras in their challenges to Australia's new tobacco packaging rules at the World Trade Organization.” These two countries are questioning the move purely for trade reasons since neither owns a big chunk of the Australian tobacco marketplace.
"We know that the tobacco companies, because they have admitted it, are providing legal advice to WTO members in order to encourage them to take action against Australia," said Australian Health Secretary Jane Halton to Reuters.
Halton went on to say that she and the Australian government are confident that they can “withstand these attacks” (they're being sued by Philip Morris and British American Tobacco among other legal challenges) and the “government will not be intimidated.”
In 12 years, smoking rates have fallen from 30.5 percent to 15.1 percent, Reuters reports, and the Australian government — which was this week honored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — would like the trend to continue.
Halton pointed out that health of citizens should be a consideration when dealing with trade. Such thinking may be why Australia just passed Norway by to be named the world’s happiest nation.
According to Bloomberg, the criteria that put Australia on top this year included its high scores on income, jobs, housing and health, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmen's 2012 Better Life Index. The United States, in case you were wondering, placed third.