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Australian court upholds ban on cigarette brand packaging

Australia's High Court upheld a law enforcing the sale of cigarettes in plain packaging on Wednesday, much to the delight of the World Health Organisation. The ruling had been challenged by tobacco giants, who claimed it infringed their rights.

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AFP - The World Health Organization on Wednesday welcomed the decision by Australia's High Court to dismiss a legal challenge against plain cigarette packaging and hoped it would have a "domino effect" in other countries.

"The industry's attempt to derail this effective tobacco control measure failed," said the UN health agency's director general Margaret Chan.

Four companies led by British American Tobacco (BAT) had challenged Australia's plans to enforce the sale of tobacco products in plain packaging from December 2012.

They claimed it infringed their intellectual property rights by banning brands and trademarks from packets, and was unconstitutional. But Australia's High Court on Wednesday ruled against the challenge.

Chan pointed out that other countries had been watching the outcome of the hearing and were considering similar measures.

"With so many countries lined up to ride on Australia's coattails, what we hope to see is a domino effect for the good of public health," she said.

"Plain packaging is a highly effective way to counter industry's ruthless marketing tactics," added the WHO chief.

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