Tobacco Branding Banned Down Under
Once again, there is news of graphic design being the subject of a high court case. Just a few weeks ago the Michigan State Supreme Court's ruling on the definition of 14 pt type allowed a petition to put a question regarding the nature of state government on ballots this fall. Now, from half a world away, the Australian Supreme Court has upheld a new government law dictating mandatory packaging for cigarettes that removes all branding, including colors and logos, from packaging.
The new packaging law, which goes into effect on December 1, 2012, is intended to discourage young people from taking up smoking. It requires all cigarettes to be sold in olive green packs, covered with warning statements and graphic images of tumors and other diseases linked to smoking.
The law was originally passed last November, but had been challenged by tobacco companies as unconstitutional. They had also contended that the act of banning logos, brands, and trademarks infringed on their intellectual property rights. But the high court did not agree, and left the law standing. While unhappy with the ruling, the tobacco companies have agreed to comply with the law.
And this may just be the beginning of a larger story about banned branding. The Supreme Court's ruling was eagerly awaited by other countries and some U.S. states contemplating similar legislation, so Australia may well be just the first of many places where the branding of tobacco (or other products) is banned.