In a dry run of one of the biggest legal battles in public health, an advocate for Australia's tobacco policies has delivered seemingly strong rebuttals of objections likely to be mounted in a landmark case at the World Trade Organization.
Two top academic lawyers presented the arguments at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, a stone's throw from the WTO, where Ukraine, Cuba, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are trying to overturn Australia's radical tobacco packaging law.
Australia introduced the law late last year, requiring cigarette packs to be uniformly dark brown, emblazoned with health warnings, and with the name of the product printed in a standardized small font, with no colors or logos.
Its defense at the WTO is widely seen as the crucial battle that the tobacco companies must win if they want to halt the advance of anti-tobacco laws globally, which the World Health Organization says will result in a "brave new world of tobacco control".
Legal experts present at Tuesday's academic debate said the arguments were likely to be similar to the ones deployed when the case is litigated behind closed doors at the WTO.