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December 18th, 2015:

Smoking in cars with kids now to be banned by new law

A BILL to ban smoking in cars when children are passengers has been passed by MSPs.

The new law will make it illegal to smoke in a private motor vehicle when an under 18 is in the car.

The Bill had the backing of health campaigners, anti-smoking groups and cancer charities.

It was passed unanimously by MSPs will all parties backing the Bill.

LibDem MSP, Jim Hume, brought the Bill to Holyrood and he said it would add to efforts to improve the health of children in Scotland.

Mr Hume said: “By developing policies on smoking, we are closing loopholes in legislation that are hazardous to children. Research shows that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to become smokers themselves.

“What’s more, by reducing the exposure to second-hand smoke in vehicles will not only have immediate benefits in protecting children’s respiratory systems, it will also reduce the likelihood of them developing respiratory conditions in the future.”

The ban will come into effect next summer and the Scottish Government will begin an education and promotional campaign.

The ban is supported by the British Medical Association who said it was an important step.

Dr Peter Bennie, Chair of BMA Scotland, said: “Smoking in vehicles is a source of concentrated second hand smoke, and as children are still developing they are at particular risk.

“The BMA believes this bill is an important further step in reducing tobacco harm and protecting children’s health by restricting the prevalence of second hand smoke in private vehicles when children are present.”

International health campaigners said that Scotland was leading the way and that others in less developed countries would be encouraged to follow suit.

Dr Judith Mackay, senior policy advisor at the World Health Organisation and senior advisor at the World Lung Foundation, said: “From 6,000 miles away, congratulations to Jim Hume for saving the lives of Scotland’s children.

“The legislation that Jim Hume has pioneered will have an impact around the world. Many low and middle income countries, where I work in Asia, would not be able to lead in this type of legislation, but will be emboldened to follow Scotland’s example.”

Cancer Research said it w should become second nature to comply with the new law.

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s Senior Public Affairs Manager, said: “Stubbing out before getting in a car with children should become as normal as fastening seatbelts.

“it’s simply not acceptable to expose children to cancer-causing second-hand smoke.”

Anti-smoking activists call for ban on tobacco charity donations

BEIJING, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) — Chinese anti-smoking campaigners want a ban on charity donations or activities sponsored by tobacco companies in a draft charity law.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the body that runs the legislature between full meetings, will meet in Beijing from Dec. 21 to 27 to deliberate the draft.

The draft, published online for comment in November, has been heatedly discussed among anti-smoking activists.

Xu Guihua of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control approves of the proposals banning tobacco advertising, but said more strict regulations are needed to stop tobacco companies using charities to promote their products.

According to the draft, organizations and individuals should not seek to promote tobacco products or tobacco companies through charitable donations. However, tobacco companies may still sponsor charitable activities such as fund raisers since charitable activities can take various forms, said Xu.

Besides, the clauses about incentives to encourage organizations and individuals to do charity work, such as tax breaks, naming rights, do not exclude tobacco companies, which could lead to them benefiting from media coverage of charities they sponsor, Xu added.

Banning all tobacco donations is a requirement of international law, said Zhao Jianwen with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences institute of international law.

China signed the WTO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, and ratified it in 2006, which requires all signatories to “ban all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.” Incorporating a ban on tobacco sponsorship into the charity law is in line with the spirit of the convention, Zhao said.

Wu Yiqun, vice director of the Beijing-based anti-smoking advocacy group ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, said that lawmakers should ban donations just as they banned tobacco commercials in the Advertising Law passed in April.

The draft law is short of sanctions for violators, a loophole which could be taken advantage of by tobacco companies since there would be no penalty for breaking the law, said Liu Xin of the China Law Society.

According to the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, there have been 166 cases of tobacco sponsorship in the last two years.

There have been questions of whether banning tobacco donations could be a loss to society. Zhao Jianwen suggested that raising tobacco industry taxes could let the government spend more money on charities.

China has over 300 million smokers and the government has recently made some efforts to change the situation. Beijing rolled out regulations banning all forms of tobacco promotions and title sponsorship, which went into effect on June 1. The rules also prohibit smoking in Beijing’s public indoor areas.

Tobacco Industry nightmare, now a reality – ASH

Australia has won an international legal battle to uphold its world-leading tobacco control measures, with Philip Morris failing in its long-running attempt to challenge plain packaging laws under a bilateral trade agreement with Hong Kong.

Action on Smoking and Health NZ (ASH) congratulate the Australian Government on their stand to back themselves and their decision on implementing Plain Pack Cigarettes, and now (as expected) have won their case against the tobacco industry.

The tribunal made a unanimous decision agreeing with Australia’s position that it has no jurisdiction to hear Philip Morris’s claim.

ASH Director Stephanie Erick says, “This is great news, this decision can give NZ greater confidence to pass Standardised (Plain) Packaging for immediate implementation.”

Research among young adult kiwi’s report that larger graphic health warnings are significantly more likely to help those who want to stop smoking. Furthermore, NZ research shows standardised packaging and dissuasive cigarette sticks can also deter people from ever starting or relapsing.

The recent 2015 NZ Health Survey results reported a very slow decrease in smoking rates and continued high smoking rates among Maori, Pacific and young adults.

“Smoking in Australia is falling in adults, in children and by tobacco volume sales,” said Australia’s Public Health Association chief executive, Michael Moore.

Australia has monitored plain packaging and published scientific research has shown that plain packaging works.

Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole says, “NZ’s Standardised Packaging legislation needs to be urgently finalised as part of the process of achieving the Government’s Smokefree 2025.”

Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian government’s expert committee that recommended plain packaging, said the tobacco companies were “desperate to prevent plain packaging here and internationally because they know it works”.

Tobacco giant dealt setback after international tribunal dismisses legal challenge to Australian plain-packaging laws

Philip Morris launched the challenge in 2011 after plain-packaging legislation was passed, using a 1993 trade deal between Australia and Hong Kong that included foreign investment protections.

An Australian law requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging has received a boost after an international tribunal said it would not hear a tobacco company’s legal challenge.

The government in Canberra on Friday welcomed the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration to refuse jurisdiction over a case brought by smoking giant Philip Morris.

“Plain packaging is a legitimate public health measure, which is consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations,” said Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash, who is responsible for tobacco policy.

“We welcome the unanimous decision by the tribunal agreeing with Australia’s position that it has no jurisdiction to hear Philip Morris’s claim,” she said in a statement.

“Smoking does untold harm to Australians, causing deaths from cancer; lung and heart disease, and hurting families.”

In 2012, Australia became the first country to mandate plain packaging for cigarettes, in a bid to reduce smoking rates, and has since been followed by other nations including France and Britain.

But big tobacco firms including Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International have launched legal challenges against such laws, arguing they impinge on their trademark intellectual property.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, established to settle international disputes, declined to comment on its decision to refuse jurisdiction for the arbitration proceedings in Singapore.

Philip Morris accused Australia of using a procedural issue to avoid addressing the legality and effectiveness of plain packages, calling the move “regrettable”.

“There is nothing in today’s outcome that addresses, let alone validates, plain packaging in Australia or anywhere else,” Philip Morris’ senior vice-president and general counsel Marc Firestone said in a statement on Friday, adding that his firm was reviewing the decision to determine its response.

“This case has never been about a government’s undeniable authority to regulate in the public interest. Nor has there ever been any question that tobacco products merit strict oversight,” Firestone added.

“In our view, the real point is simply this: even when pursuing tobacco control objectives, governments are still accountable if they choose to use unlawful means.”

Philip Morris launched the challenge in 2011 after plain-packaging legislation was passed, using a 1993 trade deal between Australia and Hong Kong that included foreign investment protections.

Four tobacco firms including Philip Morris in 2012 lost a legal challenge against the laws in the High Court of Australia, which found they did not breach the nation’s constitution.

France votes for plain cigarette packaging from 2016

Cigarettes will be sold in logo-free packaging from May 2016, despite objections from the conservative opposition and tobacconists

Cigarettes in France will be sold in plain packaging under a law that was finally passed in parliament on Thursday despite objections from the conservative opposition.

Starting in May 2016, the brand name will appear but in a small, uniform typeface and packets will be shorn of logos.

With backing from the ruling Socialists and the Greens, the text finally came into law after mainly conservative senators added amendments to the draft that was first voted in April, which would allow the brand name to appear in small letters.

The senate had initially demanded that the neutral packaging clause be removed from the draft legislation.

Around a quarter of French adults indulge in the hazardous habit, according to the World Health Organisation, and one third of teenagers also smoke.

Nine years ago, France controversially banned smoking in enclosed public spaces, including bars and restaurants.

And only last month, Paris authorities doubled fines for dropping cigarette butts to 68 euros (£50/$75) in a city where some 350 tonnes of them are collected annually.

Last year, health minister Marisol Touraine estimated some 13 million people still light up in France and that smoking accounts for around 78,000 deaths, the leading cause of premature death in the country.

All cigarettes will from May next year have to be sold in neutral packaging of uniform size and colour in a move that is notably similar to legislation adopted in Australia three years ago.

The United Kingdom and Ireland have since followed suit.

Australian government wins plain packaging case against Philip Morris Asia

The federal government has won its case against tobacco giant Philip Morris Asia challenging Australia’s tobacco plain-packaging laws.

It means the former Gillard government’s plain-packaging laws, introduced in 2011, will remain in place.

The tribunal in the arbitration, based in Singapore, has issued a unanimous decision agreeing with Australia’s position that it has no jurisdiction to hear Philip Morris’s claim.

Philip Morris has slammed the decision, saying it does not validate plain packaging in Australia or anywhere else.

“It is regrettable that the outcome hinged entirely on a procedural issue that Australia chose to advocate instead of confronting head on the merits of whether plain packaging is legal or even works,” Marc Firestone, Philip Morris international senior vice president, said in a statement.

Fiona Nash, Minister for Rural Health, has welcomed the decision, saying plain packaging is a legitimate public health measure which is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

“We welcome the unanimous decision by the tribunal agreeing with Australia’s position that it has no jurisdiction to hear Philip Morris’ claim,” Ms Nash said.

“Smoking does untold harm to Australians, causing deaths from cancer, lung and heart disease, and hurting families.

“The Coalition government has powered ahead with plain packaging and invested in reducing smoking rates across the board.”

The Public Health Association of Australia has also welcomed the decision.

“This is a massive win for public health. The tobacco industry’s desperate legal efforts have failed yet again,” said PHAA tobacco spokesperson Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian government’s expert committee that recommended plain packaging.

The confidentiality protocol governing the arbitration means that the substance of the decision cannot be published at this stage.

The body responsible for the arbitration – the Permanent Court of Arbitration – will publish the decision on its website once issues regarding confidentiality have been resolved.

It means the arbitration is over, other than any proceedings related to the recovery of Australia’s cost, and subject to any appeal Philip Morris Asia may seek to institute in Singapore.

It is understood the federal government has received legal advice saying such a challenge would likely be unsuccessful.

Philip Morris Asia brought the case against Australia using a legal mechanism called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

It was the first investor-state dispute brought against Australia.

It challenged Australia’s tobacco plain packaging legislation under a 1993 agreement between the Commonwealth government and the government of Hong Kong for the promotion and protection of investments.

Philip Morris Asia argued that Australia’s tobacco plain packaging measure constituted an expropriation of its Australian investments in breach of Article 6 of the agreement.

It further argued that Australia’s tobacco plain packaging measure was in breach of its commitment under Article 2(2) of the agreement to accord fair and equitable treatment to Philip Morris Asia’s investments.

It also asserted that plain packaging constituted an unreasonable and discriminatory measure and that Philip Morris Asia’s investments had been deprived of full protection and security in breach of the agreement.

The tobacco company on Friday attacked the federal government’s plain packaging laws, saying they have failed to deliver the promised health results.

“Australia’s former Labor government made bold promises regarding the public health benefits that its excessive, expropriatory trademark ban – which it labelled a policy experiment – would yield,” it said in a press release.

“Three years into the experiment, data from a range of sources consistently demonstrate that the promised outcomes are not being delivered.”

But PHAA chief executive, Michael Moore, says the laws have been working.

“Smoking in Australia is falling in adults, in children and by tobacco volume sales,” Mr Moore said.

“Now the tobacco companies have lost another crucial legal bid to stop this life-saving measure. The message is loud and clear – plain packaging works, and it is here to stay”.

Australia’s plain packaging win over Philip Morris should take the heat off ISDS

Christmas has come early for advocates of tobacco control, with tobacco giant Philip Morris’s lawsuit against Australian plain packaging legislation ruled invalid. Australia will not have to pay any damages to Philip Morris. Indeed, it is likely that Philip Morris will be ordered to reimburse the Australian government’s costs in defending this suit.

This outcome is also an early Christmas present for defenders of much maligned investor state dispute settlement (ISDS). The Philip Morris case had become the bogeyman of ISDS. It was held up as a reason to object to ISDS clauses in free trade agreements.

This is understandable. A tobacco company sued a government for enacting laws designed to improve public health. They used a little understood mechanism – ISDS – to sue, despite having lost in Australian courts. International trade law disputes rarely have such a clear-cut villain. It is natural to distrust the mechanisms they relied on. However, this victory – in the first ISDS claim brought against Australia – should allay those concerns.

The award

This determination is a victory for common sense. Philip Morris argued that the plain packaging legislation – which prevents them from using their trademarks on the packages of their cigarettes and in advertising – was “expropriatory”. That is it was akin to the government seizing their assets without compensation. Further, Philip Morris argued they were entitled to compensation for lost profits. I have previously noted that this position is nonsense. It has no basis in law. Philip Morris were seeking suspension of the plain packaging legislation and compensation of “an amount to be quantified but of the order of billions of Australian dollars.”] They will get nothing.

In a typically truculent press release Philip Morris continued its attack on plain packaging. Its grandiose claim that the “real point” of the dispute went to “the essence of the rule of law” is correct; though perhaps not in the way they intend.

Ultimately this dispute turned on a question of jurisdiction. Australia argued that Philip Morris was not entitled to bring ISDS proceedings. It argued that Philip Morris had improperly made a foreign “investment” so as to avail itself of these proceedings. It also argued that Philip Morris misrepresented the nature of its investment to the Australian government. Further Australia argued that the case constituted an abuse of right. For these reasons Australia argued that the case could not proceed. In essence Australia was asking the tribunal to find that Philip Morris had – to use a colloquialism – attempted to “game” the system. That jurisdictional argument succeeded.

While the specifics are not yet published, it is clear that the tribunal has rejected Philip Morris’ capacity to bring this suit. Multinational companies are not able to use free trade agreements and investment treaties to do an end run around the proper processes. This is entirely in keeping with the essence of the rule of law.

Myth busting

This case exposes many of the errors opponents of ISDS proceedings make. Claims that such proceedings are secret are simply untrue. Large swathes of this dispute are available online, just as court proceedings in Australia would be. The equivalent ISDS clause contained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement goes further. It has very far-reaching and specific provisions requiring disputes to be resolved transparently.

Equally, we can now demonstrate that these cases proceed according to fairly standard legal processes. Claims that such tribunals are not bound by precedent, and therefore not bound to follow the ordinary legal process are incorrect. That claim discloses a misunderstanding of the nature of precedent.

Many other jurisdictions do not share Australia’s technical rules of precedent – the “stare decisis” rule. Yet they still make predictable decisions. Civil law countries apply “jurisprudence constante”. This rule strikes a balance between the need for predictable decisions and the civil law insistence that only the legislature may make law. International law must accommodate a plurality of legal systems. Australia’s approach to legal reasoning is not the last word in justice. Predictable, coherent legal decisions are possible even without strict application of stare decisis.

I have previously called for a sober analysis of the costs and benefits of ISDS clauses. Australia’s victory over Philip Morris should take much heat out of this debate.

The bogeyman has been slain.

Aust Govt wins case against tobacco giant Philip Morris over plain packaging laws

PETER LLOYD: Australia has won a long legal battle against tobacco giant Philip Morris over its plain packaging laws.

The company brought the case against Australia when the laws were introduced by the Gillard government back in 2011.

It’s a win for Australia that could have international ramifications as other countries too consider introducing plain packaging for tobacco products.

Imogen Brennan is speaking here to Professor Tania Voon, a specialist in trade at the Melbourne Law School.

TANIA VOON: Philip Morris was essentially arguing that this violated its investment protections, that it was contrary to Australia’s investment obligations under the Australia-Hong Kong bilateral investment treaty.

Really Philip Morris was concerned not so much about Australia, which has a relatively small population in world terms and a relatively low smoking rate which has got lower as the case has continued, but it was more concerned I would say with the impact globally because it’s very concerned, the whole tobacco industry is very concerned, about other countries following this kind of measure.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: So this could potentially set a precedent in other parts of the world?

TANIA VOON: Ah yes. So in, not necessarily in a formal sense, but certainly this will have an impact on any other case that relates to tobacco control measures, it will affect other countries’ decision making about what tobacco control measures to adopt and I would say that a significant component of the intention of this case on the part of the claimant Philip Morris was to stop other countries from adopting these kinds of measures or to delay other countries from doing that.

And it has. To some extent it may have succeeded, with some countries deferring their decision making or putting off pursuing these measures. For example New Zealand had said we will wait to see what happens with this dispute.

Other countries have nevertheless gone ahead. Today I saw another announcement that France was going ahead and was going to introduce plain packaging from May next year. Other countries include Ireland and the United Kingdom that also are pursuing similar measures.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: So this case has been going for years now and today Australia won in the investor-state dispute settlement. Can Philip Morris appeal this decision?

TANIA VOON: No. This was a decision based on the jurisdiction of the tribunal. The tribunal determined that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: In terms of further legal action against Australia in regards to its plain packaging laws, there’s a separate claim against Australia at the World Trade Organisation at the moment. What’s that case about and who’s brought that?

TANIA VOON: So the case is about the same thing. Again, it’s about Australia’s plain packaging laws. There are arguments in that case about a violation of intellectual property obligations for example. Again I think that Australia is very likely to win that case.

The case has been brought – it can only be brought by WTO members. It cannot be brought directly by companies. It’s being brought by Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia. Originally Ukraine was also one of complainants but it has since suspended its complaint.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: This must be costing the Australian Government a lot of money in terms of defence.

TANIA VOON: So I’d say it has been a long process that would have used up a lot of Australian resources but in a sense that’s something that I think the tobacco industry is trying to shout loud and clear and the implication is for other countries to watch out because they will bring the same claims against these other countries.

And I think in this regard it is a significant win not just for Australia but for all other countries around the world that are facing these kinds of arguments from the tobacco industry where the industry is trying to stop them bringing in not just plain packaging but really any kind of tobacco control measure.

So any country that wants to increase for example their graphic health warnings will face these kinds of arguments. So it is continuing the tobacco industry tradition of bringing whatever legal actions the industry can domestically and internationally.

PETER LLOYD: That’s Tania Voon from the Melbourne Law School speaking to Imogen Brennan.

It’s Been A Bad Year For Big Tobacco

Cigarette companies found themselves the targets of tighter regulations and lawsuits.

Anti-smoking activists have for years targeted the global behemoths that control the tobacco industry — and this year they made headway. Some of the largest tobacco companies suffered financial and PR setbacks in a series of lawsuits, and anti-smoking initiatives worldwide are further curbing their power.

Here are the losses big tobacco suffered this year:

Packs of Philip Morris International Inc. Marlboro Menthol cigarettes in the new packaging are arranged for a photograph at a tobacco store in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. Tobacco products complying with the world?s first plain-packaging laws have started arriving in stores, as an Oct. 1 manufacturing ban on the country's A$10 billion ($10 billion) tobacco industry comes into force. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Packs of Philip Morris International Inc. Marlboro Menthol cigarettes in the new packaging are arranged for a photograph at a tobacco store in Melbourne, Australia, on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. Tobacco products complying with the world?s first plain-packaging laws have started arriving in stores, as an Oct. 1 manufacturing ban on the country’s A$10 billion ($10 billion) tobacco industry comes into force. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Australia Can Keep Its Plain Cigarette Packaging

The Australian government won a major lawsuit against Philip Morris this week. It can continue using plain packaging — logo-less packaging that is the same for all tobacco brands — on cigarette packs sold across the country.

Australia introduced “the world’s toughest laws on tobacco promotion” in 2011, according to then-health minister Nicola Roxon. That year the government voted to implement packaging that, instead of logos, displays the frightening illnesses associated with smoking.

Philip Morris Asia unsuccessfully sued the Australian government in 2011, claiming that the law violated a trade agreement between Australia and Hong Kong.

The UK, France and Ireland Will Use Standardized Packaging, Too

Several countries have followed suit on Australia’s anti-smoking measures. Britain and Ireland approved plain packaging laws in March.

France’s parliament also approved a law Thursday that will place plain packaging on all cigarettes sold in the country starting in May 2016. The products’ brand name will only appear in small type.

The country has made several attempts to diminish its large number of smokers. In 2008, it prohibited smoking in enclosed public spaces like restaurants and bars. In October, the city of Paris also raised the fine for dropping a cigarette butt into the street to 68 euros.

Boston Raises Age For Buying Tobacco To 21

Boston’s board of health voted last week to raise the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 in an effort to prevent teen smoking.

Boston followed the lead of many other cities and towns across Massachusetts that had already increased the age limit. “These changes send a strong message that Boston takes the issue of preventing tobacco addiction seriously,” Boston mayor Marty Walsh said.

New International Trade Laws Block Tobacco Companies From Suing Countries

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 countries in the Pacific Rim, ruled in October that tobacco is exempt from Investor-State Dispute Settlement rules. In other words, tobacco companies will no longer be able to challenge TPP member countries’ anti-smoking measures the way that Philip Morris did in Australia in 2011.

Anti-tobacco lobbyists and a few senators helped make it happen. “It was time to take action to get trade agreements to stop treating tobacco like it’s just another product and the tobacco industry like any other business,” said Gregg Haifley, federal relations director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

The FDA Forced One Tobacco Company To Stop Selling Several Products

The Food and Drug Administration banned R.J. Reynolds from selling four different types of cigarettes in September — Camel Crush Bold, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter Menthol and Vantage Tech 13 cigarettes.

The company changed the product ingredients so that they no longer complied with a 2007 federal health law, The Hill reported. The products “fail[ed] to meet the public health bar set forth under law,” explained Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

A Jury Imposed $35 Million In Damages On That Same Tobacco Company

R.J. Reynolds was also at the center of a lawsuit in Florida after Garry O’Hara, a U.S. Air Force sergeant who earned the Bronze Star, died of lung cancer in 1996, at the age of 50. O’Hara’s family’s lawyers argued that the company masked the risks associated with smoking for years.

A Florida jury awarded the family $34.7 million in damages in September.

The company tried to argue that the executives responsible for decisions at the time are no longer around. “The R.J. Reynolds leadership that you heard about, they’re gone. … Those people who stood up before Congress and raised their hand, they’re gone,” David Monde, a lawyer for R.J. Reynolds, said in court.

Shady Activity Uncovered Within A Big UK Tobacco Company

The BBC conducted an investigation into British American Tobacco and found that the company bribed politicians and civil servants in East African countries in an effort to “undermine anti-smoking legislation.”

One BAT employee, the BBC said, illegally paid a civil servant in Burundi in exchange for a copy of the country’s Tobacco Control Bill.

The BAT said it was the target of false accusations.

“Our accusers in this programme left us in acrimonious circumstances and have a vendetta against us, clearly demonstrated by the false picture they present of how we do business,” it said in a statement.

The company could face prosecution in the U.K. and the U.S.

Three Cigarette Companies Ordered To Pay CA $15 Billion To Canadian Smokers

Two separate lawsuits, filed by Canadians sickened from smoking and Canadians unable to quit smoking, culminated in the country’s biggest class-action lawsuit to date.

Three tobacco companies — Imperial Tobacco; Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and JTI-Macdonald — were accused of lying to consumers about the health risks associated with their products. They were ordered earlier this year to pay $15 billion (about $10.8 billion USD) to the plaintiffs.

All three companies said they planned to appeal the decision, claiming that Canadians are well-versed in the risks of smoking.

Australia wins court challenge to tobacco plain packaging

A Singapore-based court has refused a challenge by Philip Morris to Australia’s landmark plain packaging legislation passed in 2011, which the tobacco giant had brought under a bi-lateral trade treaty with Hong Kong, the company said.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration declined on jurisdictional grounds to allow the case to proceed, effectively ending the challenge through this venue, which was based on claims that Australia was violating intellectual property laws.

The decision by the court not to hear the case is likely to be seen as a major victory for Australia, which is facing challenges in other forums such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and for other countries considering similar laws.

Australia was the first country in the world to force manufacturers to strip all branding from cigarette packets, most of which are now sold over the counter from blank fronted cabinets, although other countries have followed its lead.

The court said on its website that it would make its decision public once any potentially confidential material within it had been redacted.

Australian Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash, who is responsible for government tobacco policy, welcomed the decision.

“Plain packaging is a legitimate public health measure which is consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations,” she said in a statement.

Philip Morris blasted the ruling, saying that Australia had exploited procedural issues to avoid an open discussion about the effectiveness of plain packaging in curbing tobacco consumption.

“There is nothing in today’s ruling that addresses, let alone validates, plain packaging in Australia or anywhere else,” Marc Firestone, Philip Morris International Senior Vice President, said in a press release.

“It is regrettable that the outcome hinged entirely on a procedural issue that Australia chose to advocate instead of confronting head on the merits of whether plain packaging is legal or even works.”

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is currently considering a separate challenge to Australia’s legislation by four member states, and a flurry of challenges by tobacco companies are ongoing as more countries follow Australia’s lead.

The court’s decision would not have any bearing on the WTO case or any of the other legal challenges currently underway.

Companies including Philip Morris, British American Tobacco BATS.L, Japan Tobacco International 2914.T and Imperial Tobacco Group IMT.L took the British government to court earlier this month to challenge its plain packaging laws, which take effect next May.

The case will be heard in a six-day hearing at London’s Royal Courts of Justice.