It's official: after rejecting the tobacco companies' appeal, the High Court of Australia has declared the country's new obligatory cigarette packaging law constitutional. Look at them above—starting on December 1, the packages' iconic brand design will be fully replaced by the horrors of smoking.
Rest assured, this is coming sooner or later to the rest of the world as well, including the United States.
The lawsuit against the Australian government was presented by the usual suspects: British American Tobacco—the makers of Lukcy Strike—Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and, of course, Philip Morris, the manufacturers of Marlboro.
The new law dictates a generic packaging for all brands, using a combination of olive, yellow and black, with big text warnings and a full color picture displaying the effects of smoking in a graphic way.
All the brand design will be reduced to fine print, a mere identifier with the name, variant and number of cigarettes in the pack. The iconographic designs of Marlboro, Lucky Strike or Camel—which still survive in the rest of the world surrounded by giant "SMOKING KILLS" or "SMOKING PRODUCES IMPOTENCE" warnings, as well as smaller graphically strong images—will be be completely gone.
The companies are protesting the decision, but they can't do anything about it. Their whining arguments are surprising, though. They don't mention that the packaging may slow their sales and reduce the appeal of their product. Their argument is that this will help criminals (?!?). In the words of Sonia Stewart, from Imperial Tobacco, "the legislation will make the counterfeiters' job both cheaper and easier by mandating exactly how a pack must look." As if replicating a pack of Marlboro wasn't easy enough to do right now.