Big Tobacco now mimes a socially responsible business company and puts its yellowy discolored finger in the ACTA-pie. The tendency is clear: tobacco industry more and more uses international treaties to put governments under pressure.

As a driving force behind the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the tobacco industry pursues its own goal to prevent nonsmoker policies like plain packaging, writes blogger David Cronin in his article How ACTA stinks of Big Tobacco.

During the negotiations, the tobacco industry is represented by the International Chamber of Commerce. It argues that plain packaging would facilitate the work of counterfeiters, which makes the product yet more dangerous. Counterfeiters may add (illegal) and dangerous substances to the cigarettes. But anti-tobacco organization ASH UK counters:

Existing packs are already easily counterfeited. Plain packs will still have to have covert markings, tax stamps and health warnings that are required on current packs so they will be no easier to counterfeit.”

Australia will be the first country to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products from December 1, 2012. All cigarette packs will then be olive green with 75% of the front and 90% of the back covered with health messages.

In November 2011, Philip Morris sued Australia on the new plain packs law. In the process, it argues using the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS agreement, reports the International Business Times. “Plain packaging turns tobacco products into a commodity, robbing PML of its ability to differentiate its products from competitor brands, and thereby substantially diminishing the value of PMA’s investments in Australia” stated Philip Morris in a press release.

Referring to the same law, Ukraine sues Australia, too. However, the two countries do not have any tobacco business ties since 2005, at least. This raises the suspicion that in fact, it is not Ukraine but the tobacco industry that sues Australia. Both processes show: The tobacco industry more and more makes use of international treaties to put pressure on governments that want to circumvent their business.

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