brands under fire
Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 23, 2012 03:42 PM
New Zealand may be small but its government apparently has got a whole lot of chutzpah.
The government’s new law that all tobacco products cannot be publicly displayed went into effect Monday, and a plan to force all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging — which NZ's Ministry of Health calls the "single biggest cause of preventable death and disease" — is still forging ahead. The government's new "Tobacco Available Here" sign for authorized tobacco retailers, in English and Maori with a sickening photo of a gangrene-infected foot, is also fairly grim.
The hope is that the entire country will be smoke-free by 2025, according to TV New Zealand. However, the government may need to pay a boatload of cash out in order to make it happen. “Ministry of Health officials have warned the Government that defending a case at the World Trade Organization could cost taxpayers between $1.5 million to $2 million,” the website reports. And that price could go up to $6 million.
One tobacco giant is already sounding like it is ready take the government to court.
"We're reviewing all of our options at the moment our preference would be not to go down the legal path but we may be forced to," British American Tobacco spokesman Nick Booth told TVNZ. "It would have an impact on our business because it would be taking away our valuable intellectual property and that's why we are so concerned about the minister's proposal."
It appears that big tobacco’s lawyers are going to be quite busy in that part of the world protecting their “valuable intellectual property.” Tobacco-sellers in nearby Australia will need to showcase tobacco products in plain packaging starting in December, and the two sides are already tangling about the legality of that.