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Big Tobacco Threatens to Sue Australia for Telling the Truth

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"We believe we have a very strong legal case and will be seeking significant financial compensation for the damage to our business."

So said Philip Morris spokeswoman Anne Edwards in a statement today regarding the Australian government's decision to bar brand logos from appearing on cigarette packs starting in 2012.

Yes, Big Tobacco is pissed off -- and evidently, the way to ingratiate your company with regulators around the world is to threaten entire countries with crippling legal action.

“What company would stand for having its brands, which are worth billions, taken away from them?” said Scott McIntyre, a spokesman for British American Tobacco Australia, according to the New York Times. “A large brewing company or fast food chain certainly wouldn’t and we’re no different.”

See, cigarette manufacturers don't like the idea of a pack of, say, Camels, without a cute cartoon of Joe Camel on the front of the box -- which is what the Aussies are proposing:

Oh, how the world longs for the simpler, healthier times when cigarettes were actually good for you:

Fortunately, Big Tobacco has plenty of experience taking entire countries (and, naturally, states and municipalities) to court when the health authorities deign to mess with their business.

A small sample:

Tobacco giant Philip Morris suing Uruguay over ban

Philip Morris sues Irish government on tobacco ban

Big Tobacco Sues Massachusetts -- Again

Big Tobacco Sues CA for "Vilification" in Anti-Smoking Ads

Lorillard Tobacco Sues to Stop Airing of Antismoking Ads

Philip Morris sues San Francisco over tobacco ban

Tobacco companies sue over Worcester ad ban

General Tobacco Sues 52 U.S. AGs

Big Tobacco Sues NYC, Claims Anti-Smoking Posters Are Unconstitutional

Australia, you should really know better -- from the look of things, one might start to think you're a sovereign nation with the right to make its own rules.

Same goes for you, Uruguay -- when will you ever learn?
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