16.4 Legal cases initiated by tobacco industry

Last updated: December 2016 

Suggested citation: George A, Zhou S and Liberman, J. Ch 16 Tobacco Litigation in Australia, 16.4 Legal cases initiated by tobacco industry. In Scollo, MM and Winstanley MH, Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues. Melbourne Cancer Council Victoria; 2017. Available from http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-16-litigation/16-4-Cases-by-industy 

The tobacco industry has actively initiated litigation against governments to obstruct the implementation of evidence-based, effective tobacco control measures by claiming such measures are unlawful. In domestic contexts, the tobacco industry’s threats and claims are primarily based on the purported infringement of various commercial rights (such as to expression or speech, property and economic freedom). In an international context, the tobacco industry has initiated claims under international investment agreements and, although international trade law governed by World Trade Organization (‘WTO’) Agreements is enforceable only by WTO members, multinational tobacco companies have also been reported to have provided support to complainants to challenge tobacco control measures before the WTO.1

Australian’s plain packaging scheme has faced legal challenges before all three fora —an unsuccessful domestic constitutional challenge before the High Court of Australia; an unsuccessful international investment law challenge by Philip Morris Asia (PMA) under a 1993 Hong-Kong — Australia Bilateral Investment Treaty (‘BIT’) and a pending challenge by Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia before the World Trade Organization. 

For additional information on legal cases initiated by the tobacco industry, please see Litigation in national courts to overturn state or national legislation , Use of international trade and investment agreements to challenge national tobacco control measures and http://www.mccabecentre.org/knowledge-hub/

Recent news and research

For recent news items and research on this topic, click here (Last updated June 2018)  



1.  Martin A. 'Philip Morris Leads Plain Packs Battle in Global Trade Arena'. Bloomberg News.  Last update: 22 August 2013; Viewed 19 December 2016. Available from: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-22/philip-morris-leads-plain-packs-battle-in-global-trade-arena.html

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