The United Kingdom supports the right of WTO Members to implement important public health initiatives to protect their citizens and welcomes the Appellate Body’s findings that Australia’s tobacco control measures were not more trade restrictive than necessary.
Many countries around the world have now adopted tobacco plain packaging measures, including the United Kingdom as of 20 May 2016.
Smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and early death, and a major cause of inequalities in the United Kingdom. In England alone, smoking kills around 78,000 people each year and costs the National Health Service £2.5bn.
In response, the United Kingdom has introduced a range of measures to discourage smoking. The UK was the second country globally to introduce tobacco plain packaging measures.
Smoking rates have continued to fall since the measures were implemented and are now at their lowest level at 14.4% in England.
We welcome the finding that the tobacco plain packaging measures, in combination with other tobacco-control measures, contribute to the objective of reducing the use of, and exposure to, tobacco products and that these measures were not more trade-restrictive than necessary.
The United Kingdom also takes note of the Appellate Body’s conclusions on the standard of review to be applied to claims under Article 11 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding, and its reminder that Article 11 claims must not be used as a pre-text to re-litigate the panel’s factual determinations on appeal. Limiting appellate review to matters of law and legal interpretation, as required by Article 17.6 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding, will reduce the scope and duration of appeals and promote procedural efficiency at the Dispute Settlement Body.