Australia Becomes Latest Battleground For Big Tobacco Vs. Regulators
Tobacco companies see a domino effect from Australia's moves to lucrative markets like Britain, Canada and New Zealand, which are considering similar laws. They also see implications in emerging markets. In response, tobacco companies have launched a marketing campaign featuring a fierce-looking, prison guard-type woman from the cult Australian television show "Prisoner Cell-Block H," who barks orders at a smoker and keeps on demanding more money. "I make the rules around here!" she shouts, "So I'm going to tell you where you can and cannot smoke." "I'm over 18. It's legal," replies the smoker.
Philip Morris, which owns Marlboro and others, also has threatened to sue the Australian government for billions, potentially. The company says Australia's government is devaluing its intellectual property, in breach of an international investment treaty signed between Canberra and Hong Kong, where Philip Morris is based.