Australia's move to the plain packaging of cigarettes and its WTO compatibility

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Tobacco companies have expressed concern that Australia's plain cigarette packaging initiative breaches international trade obligations. This article begins by providing a background to cigarette packaging. It then examines developments worldwide and in Australia that have led to this initiative, and finally examines the claim of cigarette companies that the move is incompatible with the TRIPS Agreement. It concludes that the general move towards plain packaging in Australia and elsewhere falls within the scope of permissible regulation under Article 20 of the TRIPS Agreement and that concerns about plain packaging violating the TRIPS Agreement should not prevent WTO Members from placing plain packaging firmly on the public health agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-425
Number of pages21
JournalAsian Journal of WTO and International Health Law and Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property (TRIPS)
  • Encumbrance
  • Plain packaging
  • Public health
  • The Paris convention
  • Tobacco control
  • Trademarks
  • World trade organization (WTO)

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