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The World Trade Organization and Tobacco Plain Packaging: Is Packaging Adverting and Does It Influence Consumption?

By Nader Tavassoli


On June 29, 2020, a dispute settlement panel convened by the World Trade Organization (WTO) rejected the appeal regarding its findings in the report “Australia – Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks, Geographical Indications and other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging”.1 The dispute was initiated by Honduras in 2012 and later joined by the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Indonesia and the Ukraine (who withdrew). A large number of other countries participated in the proceedings as third parties, with 24 submitting formal arguments. The dispute concerned Australia’s right to regulate the advertising and promotion of tobacco products vis-a-vis certain WTO obligations and potential trade-distorting effects. The case was closely followed as several other countries had passed tobacco plain packaging (TPP) legislation, and because of the potential implications for alcoholic and high-sugar products of concern to public health.

Learning objectives

1. What is advertising and what are advertising objectives?
2. How does advertising affect consumer behaviour across the purchase funnel?
3. How does advertising affect primary versus secondary demand, and how does this relate to price elasticities?
4. Does adolescent and adult decision-making differ?
5. Do consumers have free will?
6. How can marketers demonstrate advertising effectiveness?
7. How can a (natural) experiment disentangle the effects of the marketing mix?


Publication Date: October 2020
LBS Case Code: CS-20-020
Subjects: , , ,
Geography: ,
Pages: 19
Format: pdf