The Southby Seminar: Promoting Public Health through Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products: An Australian/New Zealand Perspective
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT)
San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
In 1989 New Zealand became the first country in the world to suggest that tobacco products be sold in plain white packets in order to reduce the appeal of smoking. In 2012 the Australian plain packaging law was enacted, and as of August 2014, legislation is progressing through Parliament in New Zealand. Other countries are reportedly watching the Australasian experience closely before deciding whether to enact their own plain packaging laws.
For the New Zealand government, the legislation is a public health issue, required to satisfy its policy goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025. This important public health goal therefore justifies an interference with tobacco advertising. For tobacco companies, the arguments against plain packaging are numerous. Plain packaging is contrary to the public’s rights to freedom of choice and information and to the tobacco companies’ right to freedom of expression. It infringes on intellectual property rights. The Australian legislation is contrary to provisions in Bilateral Investment Treaties and is a breach of World Trade Organization obligations. Further, and most importantly, it will not reduce smoking.
This lecture will discuss the arguments for and against plain packaging of tobacco products. It will discuss the current challenges to the Australian legislation, and those anticipated by the New Zealand government. It will finally consider whether the most appropriate means of achieving a reduction in smoking is a paternalistic ban on the advertising of a legal product, or whether efforts should be focused on autonomy, and education as to the harmful effects of smoking.
The seminar will be followed by a reception.
Dr. Debra Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she lectures and researches in both intellectual property law and medical law. She is currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University, in the Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies.