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Philip Morris Starts Legal War With Australia Over Cigarette Packaging

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Philip Morris Starts Legal War With Australia Over Cigarette Packaging

Tobacco firm Philip Morris is taking a stand against Australian government officials' strict cigarette packaging and labeling regulations. The company launched a lawsuit yesterday against the government of Australia, which recently announced its plans to remove company logos from cigarette packaging and instead replace them with graphic images.

Australia's legislation will be introduced in July and phased in beginning January 2012. It will prohibit cigarette companies from printing logos, promotional text or colorful images on packaging, the Associated Press reported. While several companies have threatened legal action, Philip Morris is the first to actually follow through.

"Our brands are really one of the absolute key valuable assets that we have as a company - it's what helps us compete; it's what enables us to distinguish our products," Anne Edwards, spokesperson for Philip Morris, told the source. "This move ... would essentially amount to confiscation of our brand in Australia."

Australia's graphic cigarette labeling efforts to curb smoking rates are in line with countries such as the U.S., and Canada, which noted a 6 percent decrease after introducing its graphic labels, according to CBS News.