According to a senior partner of the law firm – Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Australian regulators are likely to introduce graphic warning labels on packaging of soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and unhealthy food items sometime soon.
This law firm has successfully defended BAT (British American Tobacco) in a $280 billion racketeering case in the US. Representatives of this firm are presently engaged in taking on the WTO (World Trade Organisation) on behalf of BAT over warning labels on tobacco packaging and plain packaging.
Some of these representatives have told Fairfax Media that tobacco is often the “canary in the coal mine” for changes to warnings and labelling around the world.
Benjamin Rubinstein – a partner with the law firm, has said that beer bottles with an image of a cirrhotic liver could soon be visible on Australia’s tables. He said the public health community has been mulling over whether to focus just on tobacco or bring other unhealthy, fatty and sugary foods as well as alcohol into its gambit.
According to the HSF partner, there’s a possibility of regulators pushing plans for introducing graphic warning labels on the packaging of soft drinks, alcohol products and foods that are considered to be unhealthy in the future.
Mr. Rubinstein said he agreed with public health authorities’ way of thinking as it is right for them to encourage healthier lifestyles.
The Road Ahead for Plain Packaging Initiatives
Mr. Wallace of HSF said corporations in Australia and elsewhere should be prepared to deal with cross-border litigations. As a member of the winning defence team that got a favourable ruling in Britain’s first tobacco case heard at the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, Wallace knows what he talks about.
He added further that such litigations often have a tendency to jump geographical borders like a virus.
In 2015, the British Medical Journal made public the results of 14 distinct studies on the impact of plain packaging on the public. The results indicated effectiveness of the laws as they were producing positive public health outcomes.
It’s interesting to note here that plain packaging laws were passed in Ireland in April, which stripped tobacco products of most of their branding. This is very similar to the situation in Australia that launched plain packaging laws on tobacco products in 2011.
As the Australian government and the nation’s regulators toy with the idea of plain packaging for harmful food products and alcohol, corporations could be bracing for tough times ahead, marked with fines slapped due to breaches of different legislations.
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