The implications of the WTO tobacco plain packaging disputes for public health measures

Andrew David Mitchell, Theodore Samlidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Australia became the first country to introduce standardised or plain packaging laws for tobacco products in 2011. However, they immediately came under direct and indirect challenge from the tobacco industry in various domestic and international fora, including at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO-consistency of Australia's measures was not settled until June 2020, when the Appellate Body upheld two WTO panels’ earlier findings that Australia had acted consistently with its obligations under certain WTO agreements. This article critically analyses the Appellate Body's key findings and their implications for implementing other public health measures. It is shown that these implications are multifaceted, have political, practical and legal dimensions and are likely to reach beyond the WTO dispute resolution system's bounds into other international trade and investment law contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1027
Number of pages17
JournalInternational and Comparative Law Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • public international law
  • public health
  • tobacco plain packaging
  • World Trade Organization
  • Technical Barriers to Trade
  • Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

Cite this