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Thematic Issue: Abuse of Power / General

Using Tobacco Plain Packaging to Protect the Human Rights of Children


Genevieve Wilkinson

The societal interest of public health protection has driven Australia’s regulation of tobacco products for many years. The recent decision of the World Trade Organization Appellate Body, Australia – Tobacco Plain Packaging, should encourage states to protect supportable societal interests even if they restrict the exercise of intellectual property rights. As the decision suggests that non-World Trade Organization agreements can support tobacco control measures, this article advocates for greater attention towards the human rights implications of these measures. A primary objective of tobacco plain packaging measures is to protect young people, engaging Australia’s obligations pursuant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The article argues that explicit engagement with children and recognition of their human rights in the development and implementation of plain packaging measures could have strengthened Australia’s defence of its plain packaging measures. It provides novel insights into what a child rights-based approach could mean for the future development of tobacco control measures worldwide.

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(2022) 45(1) UNSWLJ 370: