The legal challenge against the legislation to restrict the display of tobacco products in shops and cash and carries in England has been dropped.
The claimants, including Imperial Tobacco and JTI, have informed the English High Court that they will not be continuing with their request for a judicial review.
In a press statement JTI said: “This decision has been taken in light of the very significant delays in the adoption of the relevant regulations defining the scope of the ban. The final regulations still have not been made by the UK Department of Health and cannot be made any earlier than March 2012, despite the ban taking effect for large retailers on 6 April 2012 (and in April 2015 for small retailers).
“This serious and unfortunate delay has made it less likely that the English High Court could make a decision on the legality of the ban before it begins (the case should have been heard in October 2011), and means that many retailers in England cannot wait for the court’s decision before taking the significant logistical steps necessary to comply.”
Martin Southgate, managing director of JTI UK, commented: “The delays experienced in the English display ban regulations being put in place mean that we have been left with no other alternative but to discontinue this challenge. We remain strongly of the view that display bans are ineffective, bad for retailers and will only put extra pressure on legitimate business at a time when they least need it. Our focus now is in assisting the retail trade to adapt to this significant change to their businesses.”
Imperial Tobacco said: “We remain concerned about the unintended consequences of this legislation, particularly the impact on illicit trade and effect of that on Government tax revenues, and the livelihoods of retailers who are already struggling in the current economic climate. We will seek to work with the Government to minimise these unintended consequences and continue to highlight our concerns.”