Aussie Cigarette Packaging to Turn Generic, Gross
Ruling a major defeat for tobacco firms
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2012 5:55 AM CDT
Under the law, the cigarette's brand will appear only in a small, generic font.   (AP Photo/Minister for Health and Ageing, File)

(Newser) – Australia's first-of-its-kind generic cigarette packaging law has been upheld by the country's highest court in a huge defeat for tobacco companies. Today's decision means that starting Dec. 1, cigarettes will all come in olive green packages dominated by graphic health warnings with images like blinded eyeballs and cancerous mouths, reports Reuters. The brand name will appear only in a small generic font at the bottom of the package. Tobacco companies, which fear the move will inspire similar laws worldwide and wipe billions from the value of their brands, argued that the law would deprive them of copyright, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

"No longer when a smoker pulls out a packet of cigarettes will that packet be a mobile billboard," Australia's attorney general and health minister said in a joint statement. A spokesman for British American Tobacco said the company was disappointed by the ruling and claimed that the only people that will benefit will be organized crime groups selling counterfeit cigarettes, as making all packets nearly identical will also make them easier to copy. Australia's health minister countered that steps will be taken to prevent counterfeiting, like placing alphanumeric codes on authentic packages.