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10 years of the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Legal Challenges: how collaboration facilitates implementation of the WHO FCTC
  1. Clare Slattery,
  2. Suzanne Zhou,
  3. Hayley Jones
  1. McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Clare Slattery, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, East Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia; clare.slattery{at}

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In 2012, Australia became the first World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Party to implement plain packaging for tobacco products. Australia faced multiple legal challenges against the measure under domestic and international trade and investment law, brought or supported by the tobacco industry. Australia was ultimately successful in overcoming these legal challenges with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body dismissing the final challenge against the measure in June 2020. However, Australia’s experience is illustrative of a common challenge to WHO FCTC implementation. Since the WHO FCTC entered force in 2005, legal challenges have frequently been cited as a barrier to implementation. Since 2010, successive WHO FCTC Conferences of the Parties have mandated work on the relationship between the WHO FCTC and trade and investment agreements and actions taken by the tobacco industry to attempt to subvert and undermine tobacco control measures.1–7

As a result, in December 2013, the McCabe Centre for Law & Cancer (McCabe Centre) based in Melbourne, Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the WHO FCTC Convention Secretariat to serve as the first WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub, focusing on Legal Challenges.8 The Knowledge Hub, with the support of the Australian Government, aimed to share Australia’s experience of defending against legal challenges to plain packaging and dealing with threats of legal challenge in the implementation process and provide a forum for other countries, such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, to share their experience with similar legal challenges to large graphic health warnings. Today, all legal challenges to Australia’s plain packaging have been dismissed, 22 other Parties have joined Australia in introducing tobacco plain packaging and the Knowledge Hub on Legal Challenges has been joined by a further eight Knowledge Hubs all working together to defeat the tobacco industry and implement the …

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  • X @ClareeSlattery, @zhousuzanne, @hellisjones

  • Contributors HJ came up with the idea for the commentary and CS led the drafting. The authors all contributed to the drafting and review of this commentary.

  • Funding The Australian Government provides funding support for the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Legal Challenges.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are the views of the authors alone.

  • Competing interests The authors work for the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Legal Challenges.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.