Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Rebekah Mason

Plain/Standardised Packaging Legislation: The Right to Property and its Conflict with the Public Health Dimension of Smoking

Photo of Rebekah Mason

PhD title: Plain/Standardised Packaging Legislation: The Right to Property and its Conflict with the Public Health Dimension of Smoking

Smoking is detrimental to health. In order to mitigate the harm caused by smoking, the UK is considering enacting packaging legislation which would require cigarette to be presented in ‘purposefully unattractive packaging, devoid of any branding’ (Chantler Review, 2014).

Though Health Minister Jane Ellison has suggested that packaging rules will be implemented ‘before the next election in May 2015’ (BBC, 2014), it is submitted that the possibility of both domestic and international legal challenges could prevent such legislation from being enacted.

Consideration will be given to Australia’s implementation of packaging legislation in order to analyse any potential domestic challenges that may occur in the UK. Whilst packaging legislation has been challenged in Australia the act remains valid. A comparison will therefore be undertaken between UK and Australian law with the aim of assessing whether, if a legal challenge was advanced in the UK, packaging legislation would also remain valid.

Consideration will then be given to whether, if it is deemed to be invalid under English law, there exits any mechanisms through which the Act could be saved. Here discussion will focus on the relationship between conflicting human rights, namely the right to property and the international right to health. It will be asked whether protection of the right to health provides a proportionate and thus valid grounds for interfering with the right to property.

Consideration also needs to be given to the potential legal challenges that may be launched against the UK by the International community. Tobacco producing nations have already lodged a legal challenge against Australia’s packaging legislation with the World Trade Organisation.  This challenge will be assessed and consideration will be given to the questions ‘how should the panel reach their decision in this case?’ and ‘what are the potential ramifications of the WTO’s ruling in this case?’

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