UK tobacco companies have been quick to dismiss the relevance of this week’s Australian high court ruling - which upheld the Aussie government’s plans to introduce plain packaging - in terms of their own battle over here.

Imperial Tobacco claims the decision in Australia won’t have any legal ramifications for other markets. That may well be the case, but it’s hard to believe that this won’t act as a precedent of sorts.

“It’s hard to believe that the Australian plain packs ruling won’t act as a precedent of sorts”

Ronan Hegarty, news editor

The Aussie case revolved around Intellectual Property rights and the law around these is very similar in Oz to over here, so suppliers will no doubt turn to European law and issues of free trade between member states, perhaps even human rights.

The problem for manufacturers will be that while these rights are protected, they can be overruled when a government plays the public Health card.

As in Australia, it would seem that getting government policy reversed is nigh on impossible - they will have to hope that during the consultation that closed last week, they managed to convince the government that plain packs aren’t the answer after all.