Tobacco health warnings around the world

Story highlights

  • Health officials around the world hailed the decision by Australia's high court
  • Paved way for cigarettes to be sold in Australia without iconic branding
  • 42 nations around the world require graphic warning labels on cigarettes
  • Canada and 18 other nations require at least 50% of a pack to be health warnings

Health officials around the world hailed the decision by Australia's high court, which stubbed out claims by tobacco companies that the packaging of cigarettes without branding was unconstitutional.

The Australian decision raises the hopes of anti-tobacco forces of similar moves in other nations. "We are elated with this victory," said Bungon Ritthiphakdee, director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. "We also draw inspiration from the Australian government for standing up against the challenges from the tobacco industry and all its artillery for trying to block this move -- and winning. This win for Australia prepares the path for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)."

Opinion: Australian tobacco packaging laws misguided

"With Australia's victory, public health enters a brave new world of tobacco control," said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. "Plain packaging is a highly effective way to counter industry's ruthless marketing tactics."

Tobacco products in Australia must be in plain packaging without logos and have graphic health warnings as of December 1. It's the latest move in a global trend toward packing that shows diseased organs, dying patients, skin lesions or other medical maladies caused by smoking.

Big tobacco loses packing fight
Big tobacco loses packing fight


    Big tobacco loses packing fight


Big tobacco loses packing fight 01:20

Australia: Ruling shows 'big tobacco can be taken on and beaten'

Canada was the first nation to pass legislation requiring a graphic health warning in 2001 -- 41 nations have since followed suit. Canada and 18 other nations require at least 50% of the packaging to contain health warnings. Until the Australian decision, the nation that required the most prominent warning was Uruguay, where 80% of packages contain graphic health advisories.

Tobacco companies said the Australian ruling -- which would eliminate iconic branding from appearing on the package -- would raise the amount of counterfeit products on the market, eroding government taxes collected on tobacco.

More: Should smoking trigger an R rating?

Last year the United States unveiled nine graphic health warning labels that must cover half the area of cigarette packages by this September.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.