Aug 17 - Australia's highest court endorsed tough new anti-tobacco marketing laws and legislation is making its way through Argentina and Venezuela as countries around the world try to help fight smoking. Carmen Roberts reports.
Efforts to stamp out tobacco marketing are gaining traction, after Australia's highest court recently endorsed tough new anti-tobacco laws. Starting December 1, tobacco companies in Australia must sell their products in plain green packages without any branding. The packs must also carry graphic health warnings showing mouth cancer and other smoking-related illnesses. In New York, the CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, Bob Liodice, says he's horrified such laws are being passed against legal products. SOUNDBITE: BOB LIODICE, CEO, ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL ADVERTISERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Marketers have a right and we believe here in the United States to commercial free speech privileges. They also have a right to inform truthfully and non-deceptively. If in fact they are meeting those obligations then they are meeting the obligations to consumers. We believe that type of benchmark should be applicable around the world to all countries in all products and commodities." Argentina and Venezuela are working on their own anti-tobacco measures. Similar legislation is making its way through Argentina's lower house, where lawmaker Lino Walter Aguilar supports the logo ban. SOUNDBITE: REPRESENTATIVE LINO WALTER AGUILAR (SPANISH WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) SAYING: "Basically, we want to stop competing with the brands and advertising, because the colors, the images and all that attract young people who haven't identified their personality." Reports by the World Lung Foundation and American Cancer Society show tobacco has killed 50 million people around the world over the past 10 years. The U.S. requires small warning labels on cigarette packs. And Uruguay requires graphic warnings that cover 70 percent of the pack. Liodice says these laws are headed down a slippery slope. SOUNDBITE: BOB LIODICE, CEO, ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL ADVERTISERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: If you start with tobacco, what's next? Is it alcohol? Is it fatty foods? Is it automobiles that pollute the atmosphere? At what point do you basically say that you can no longer do this in the public interest." Tobacco companies argue such anti-marketing laws violate their intellectual property rights and will stimulate a black market of fake or illegally imported cigarettes. Still with more than one billion regular smokers around the world according to the World Health Organization, others countries including Britain, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and India are considering similar anti-smoking measures. Carmen Roberts, Reuters