Geneva — The World Trade Organisation has upheld Australia’s right to require cigarettes to be sold in plain packs without any logos in a landmark case that could usher in a new wave of global tobacco restrictions. A panel of dispute-settlement experts backed the legality of Australia’s 2011 measure on Thursday. Australia requires tobacco companies to sell their products in drab, brown cardboard packages with standardised fonts. Some governments have hesitated to implement such measures after a group of tobacco-producing countries sued Australia for allegedly violating WTO intellectual-property rules and setting illegal barriers to trade when it became the first country to implement plain packaging in 2011.

Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco have argued that such rules could set a precedent for other countries to implement new labelling rules for tobacco, alcohol and junk food, plus they make it easier for cigarettes to be counterfeited. "Tobacco plain packaging is ...

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