Ukraine and Honduras are reviving a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenging Australian laws, which provide for a uniform gray green packaging and large graphic health warnings on cigarettes, diplomats said on Friday.
This step sets the wheels in motion on a legal dispute is widely seen as a test case for tobacco control around the world, with the Ministry of Health are against cigarette companies such as British American Tobacco , Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco .
Tobacco companies say the Australian rules that outlaw logos, infringe their trademarks. WTO rules say the plaintiffs creating illegal barriers to world trade.
The World Health Organization considers a campaign in Australia, which is still to win the legal problems the tobacco industry, as heralding “the brave new world of tobacco control.” Other countries are lining up to follow Australia.
Six million people die each year from smoking and the toll is projected to rise to eight million by 2030, according to WHO, a United Nations agencies are waging war against “Big Tobacco.”
The complaints against Australia in the WTO have been in limbo after Ukraine and Honduras as effectively suspended the process of setting up a WTO to rule on the dispute at the end of last year, around the time the Australian laws came into force.
Ukraine asked the WTO to deal with, but then asked for the process to be suspended in November 2012. At the same time, Honduras refused to mark the final bureaucratic window, which should lead to WTO adjudication.
It has only now made it clear that it plans to go ahead with the request for the WTO meeting on Sept 25 a panel of judges, according to an agenda of the meeting
Ukraine has also reactivated its request within the last month, diplomatic sources.
Many governments may decide to move forward on its measures to reduce tobacco use only after seeing the outcome of the WTO case.
Two other countries, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, began like the WTO dispute against Australia, but their complaints are at an earlier stage, and neither has made a request for WTO adjudication at the Sept 25 meeting.
Nobody at the WTO missions of Australia or Honduras was available to comment on the dispute on Friday.