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    WHO Head Urges Global Support For Australia In Fight Against Tobacco

    Published on 22 March 2012 @ 4:52 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan has issued a call for global support of Australia in defending its “plain packaging” tobacco law against an onslaught of legal challenges from the tobacco industry. The industry has cited trademark concerns as a top issue.

    In an effort to discourage tobacco use in its country, Australia last year passed a law to go into effect later this year requiring all tobacco packages to be without logos and to carry graphic images of tobacco-related diseases.

    “We must make plain packaging a big success so that it becomes the success of the world,” Chan told Jane Halton, secretary of Australia’s Department of Health and Ageing, and others attending the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore.

    Chan’s remarks are available here.

    Tobacco multinational Philip Morris has sued Australia under a bilateral with Hong Kong, and a domestic lawsuit also has been brought. Industry also is lobbying in a recently filed dispute at the World Trade Organization, brought by several tobacco-producing nations (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 14 March 2012). The issue may provide a test of the balance between public health policies and trade policies.

    According to the WHO, Halton “promised that Australia will defend itself vigorously against both suits.”

    Chan said the tobacco industry is using intimidation, is “extremely aggressive” and “its teeth are bared.” She cited legal actions by industry in other countries as well, targeting anti-tobacco campaigns and “subverting” the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It is the convention that recommends measures such as plain packaging.

    “The high-profile legal actions targeting Uruguay, Norway, Australia and Turkey are deliberately designed to instil fear in countries wishing to introduce similarly tough tobacco control measures,” she said.

    “If we stand shoulder to shoulder, together, no tobacco industry can survive,” she said. “The fact that they are so desperate, I take it as an indication that the industry sees the writing on the wall. This is the death throe of the addicting industry.”

    Chan urged young people to “use your power” with online social networking to support Australia, WHO said.

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Riaz Tayob says:

      At the risk of being pedantic, will both Halton and Chan pursue some consistency: either defer to the WTO or defer to the WHO constitution. In the talks on Innovation for “neglected diseases” it was Aus (and also Halton in some instances if I recall correctly) and WHO that “pushed” for deference to the WTO on intellectual property rights. WHO was careful about creeping into the IPR mission of the WTO. Now why defer to WTO on TRIPs but not on GATS? In the GATS, all measures need to be “necessary” (which is a matter for interpretion after complaint) if commitments have been made in retail, marketing and distribution, etc. WHO’s Drager covered these issues on GATS and Alcohol and there is the convention, so it is no mystery at WHO. And who can fail to see the import of GATS Art VI.5.ii in this context?!
      Now the question is simply why does WHO come out against tobacco without as much deference to WTO rules as it shows on TRIPs. Perhaps WHO does not ‘know its place’ in the heirachy of things; or it knows it all too well…


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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