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Cigarettes & Ratsak

The carcinogen producers and their allies must have felt a cold blast of terror creep up their anterior regions when comparisons were made between their tobacco products and Ratsak.  Their legal counsel pointed out that more modest poison warnings on Ratsak are replaced by stronger warnings on fags.  It is a chilling and apt analogy that accurately describes the character of the tobacco product as a poison.  I would argue that cigarettes are worse than Ratsak – and deserve more intense warnings – since cigarettes  kill consumers when consumed as the producers intend. That is not true for Ratsak.

The arguments by the tobacco companies and their legal representatives on the plain packaging (PP) issue are feeble.  Trademark protection is intended to protect a trademark from being used by others. That is not being threatened by the PP legislation.  Government action can reduce the value of a trademark – that does not seem an issue in principle but particularly when the product is a health hazard.  The intention of PP is to limit a public harm and government has the right to seek to diminish values if these do constitute a public harm. There is hence no case for compensation in this case.

Trademark law is intended to promote the public interest not to sustain company profits.

In an interesting twist New Zealand has pledged to follow Australian PP laws and to seek the elimination of all smoking in their country by 2025. Britain’s health secretary has indicated that the UK will also pass its own PP legislation.  The European commissioner for health is advocating the same for all of Europe. These actions are the stirrings of a rebellion around the world that will seek to consign this industry rather than a new generation of smokers to an early graveyard. Good riddance.

3 comments to Cigarettes & Ratsak

  • happylarry

    Just curious Harry. Do you believe any government would have the will to put the limits on tobacco that currently exist for the sale of alcohol? That is, a stand-alone store policy? Any data on whether this affects smoking rates?

  • hc

    Alcohol is not sold in stand alone stores. It is sold in Coles and in small grocery stores. Maybe I don’t understand your point.

  • John Mashey

    Harry: your reader might be in US or familiar with US alcoholic beverage control states.
    In Pennsylvania, where I grew up, wine and spirits were sold *only* in state stores, which meant that if you wanted to try a different wine, the minimum order was at least a case (maybe 3). They said they’d be glad to order it.

    Golden Holocaust has a set of recommendations, of which #5 (p.551) is “Bar the sale of cigarettes everywhere except for special state-licensed outlets.” “State-licensed” allows for various approaches, as seen in the liquor variety. Robert has more discussion related to that, dealing with the youth market.