Tobacco firms’ challenge to plain packs fails

Plain packaging on tobacco products will be introduced today (May 20) after a legal challenge against the new law was dismissed by the High Court yesterday.

The case was brought by Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International. But Mr Justice Green, PRESIDING, dismissed all their grounds of challenge.

The Government said it meant a generation would “grow up smoke-free”.

Mr Justice Green gave a 386-page, 1,000-paragraph written ruling. In it he said: “The essence of the case is about whether it is lawful for states to prevent the tobacco industry from continuing to make profits by using their trade marks and other rights to further what the World Health Organisation describes as a health crisis of epidemic proportions and which imposes an immense clean-up cost on the public purse.”

“In my judgment the regulations are valid and lawful in all respects.”

The companies claimed the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 would destroy their valuable intellectual property rights and render products indistinguishable from each other.

Under the new regulations, all tobacco packaging must be uniformly olive green and with large images intended to act as health warnings.

The firms challenged the rules on a number of grounds, including a claim that the regulations violated a number of UK and EU laws, and that they were “disproportionate” and “must be quashed”.

Following the High Court ruling, the UK is now introducing its regulations today, with all packing to be in a uniform drab green, prominent health warnings and the elimination of branding.

JTI and British American Tobacco say they intend to appeal against the High Court’s ruling.

Daniel Sciamma, UK managing director of JTI, said: “We will continue to challenge the legality of plain packaging. The fact remains that our branding has been eradicated and we maintain that this is unlawful.”

Separately, the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPDII) will also be introduced today, meaning that manufacturers have to stop making packs of 10, flavoured tobacco products and RYO pouches smaller than 30g from today, although the retail and wholesale chains still have another year to sell them.


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