EU’s highest court upholds restrictive new law on cigarettes

By Reuters May 4, 2016 20:59

EU’s highest court upholds restrictive new law on cigarettes

The European Court of Justice’s rejection of a legal challenge brought by Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco (BAT) could weigh on profits for the industry and sets a precedent for other governments to crack down on a habit that causes nearly six million deaths a year worldwide.

“The court finds that, in providing that each unit packet and the outside packaging must carry health warnings … the EU legislature did not go beyond the limits of what is appropriate and necessary,” the court said in its decision, which reflected the opinion a court adviser had published in December.

The legal challenge can now be taken no further and the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) will take effect on 20 May, though wholesalers and retailers will be given a year’s grace to sell stocks manufactured before that date.

The TPD will ban menthol cigarettes by 2020, standardize packs and impose rules on e-cigarettes, such as limits on nicotine strength, tank size and advertising.

The court also said that member states may introduce further packaging requirements, such as the “plain packaging” measures proposed in Britain, France and Ireland.

These regulations, aimed at reducing the lure of smoking by forcing tobacco to be sold in uniformly drab packs with no branding, are due to come into force in the UK on 20 May, though the English High Court is expected to rule on another legal challenge brought by the tobacco companies in the coming weeks.

Action on Smoking and Health, an advocacy group, said the decision was “welcome if not surprising”.

Japan Tobacco International, a leading player in the UK with brands such as Benson & Hedges and Camel, said the ruling “endorses the proliferation of different regulations for the same product” and “brings additional confusion”.

Shares of BAT and Imperial, the two big tobacco firms that trade in London, were each down by about 1 percent.

The impact of TPD remains unclear because of limited precedent. When it comes to plain packaging, only Australia serves as an example.

In the year after implementation in Australia in December 2012 sales of mainstream and premium brands fell, but value brands rose, suggesting that smokers traded down to cheaper alternatives. Yet there was a significant increase in tobacco tax at the same time, so it’s hard to isolate the impact of the switch to plain packaging.

Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog said the development was disappointing for the industry but called it a manageable risk. She recommends owning shares of Philip Morris.

On plain packaging, Herzog said that the failure of the Australian law to bring any dramatic reduction in smoking suggests that the move in Britain “will result in more ‘headline’ than actual risk”.



By Reuters May 4, 2016 20:59
  • Rizwaan

    These tobacco companies combined are one of the giant corporates, controlling the political systems around the world! How? They are aggressively following their goals to achieve the maximum profits, just like the other companies do!

    Obviously we all know that cigarettes are the main cause of all the major diseases (as indicated on the packets) and yet we don’t have the guts to ban them! After the arrival of shisha / hooqa, the cigarettes saw a steep decline in Pakistan and other Muslim world and the Western tobacco companies started thinking how to counter it? The tobacco-corporate-funded researches came up with the conclusion that shisha posed more severe health issues as compared to cigarettes! Why? Because Shisha is not Western, it’s Eastern and its profits obviously go to Muslim owners and God knows what that amount is used for! Recently we have seen a more aggressive stance on shisha not only in Pakistan, but the Middle Eastern region and other Muslim countries as well! Liquor is also legal in all the Muslim countries, while Eastern liquor is not! Khash-khash is banned in all the GCC countries!

    I’m not a big fan of smokers! In fact I hate both smoke and smokers, be it in the form of shisha / hooqa, beeri, cigarettes, chewable tobacco etc. I just wonder how much kick backs our thug leaders are getting? Unfortunately people are being fooled in every way possible without them even realising it, be it in the form of religion, politics, education, brainwashing or whatever ….

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