Australia's tobacco policy fight is one of the biggest legal battles in public health, recently gaining new opposition from two top academic lawyers. The legal experts presented their arguments at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, in an effort to overturn Australia's cigarette packaging law enacted last year.

Since the law was introduced, cigarette packages have been required to be uniformly dark brown, decorated in health warnings, and labeled with a standardized small product font with no color or logos. The anti-smoking effort is part of the government's strategy to reduce smoking rates to 10 percent by 2018.

Almost 70 percent of adult smokers start smoking before they turn 18 and most try a cigarette by the age of 11, according to the American Lung Association. Among the reasons are peer pressure, parental smoking, rebelling, and advertising.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' National Health Survey, nearly 17.5 percent of men ages 18 and older consider themselves daily smokers, while 14.5 percent of the populations are female daily smokers.

"Smoking is known to cause harm to nearly every organ and system of your body. Many medical conditions caused by smoking can result in not just death, but in living for years of suffering with disabling health problems," said Health Minister Tanya Plibersek. "We want to let people know the health dangers associated with smoking and help to prevent hundreds of thousands of Australians from suffering as a result of smoking related diseases."

Ukraine, Cuba, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic are trying to get rid of the radical tobacco packing law, and the defense arguments at the Geneva Institute are just around the corner from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Tobacco companies must win the battle if they want to stop the mounting anti-tobacco laws across the globe. The WTO says that if anti-tobacco efforts win, it will result in a "brave new world of tobacco control."

Leading expert on WTO disputes, Joost Pauwelyn, said that in order to determine if regulations are going too far, the trade disputes will be based on whether the Australian government is restricting trade too much in order to achieve health goals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking-related conditions include asthma, Buerger's disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke — many of which can be fatal.

Australia has been seeing a gradual decline in the percentage of daily smokers. In 1977, the Bureau recorded that 36 percent of the adult population 18 years and older were smokers, while 43 percent were men and 29 percent were women.

Not only is there a difference in gender, but also of the Aboriginals and the non-indigenous Australians. The Australian Aboriginals lived alone on the continent for 50,000 years before they were discovered. Now, they make up less than three percent of the population, but of that three percent, almost half of the Aboriginals ages 14 and older smoke cigarettes, while only one-fifth of the non-Indigenous, non-native Australians smoke.

According to Minister Plibersek, tobacco smoking is the single largest cause of preventable premature death and disease in Australia. Each year, smoking-related deaths and diseases cost the Australian economy $3.5 billion.

The anti-smoking campaign began last month with television, radio, online and social media, and print ads, in addition to the smoking packages. The plain packaging laws were actually based on recommendations in the World Health Organization's 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

"Do you really believe that this will stop young people starting to smoke? Will it make it easier for people to quit smoking? The trademark on the pack, is that something that starts people smoking?" Pauwelyn asked at the WTO defense.