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.