March 10, 2016

Big Tobacco Going to Fight Plain Packaging

Tobacco manufacturers have gone to the High Court to struggle the lawfulness of the Government's new packaging guidelines. The case has been started by four of the world's largest companies against restriction that should be effective in May 2016 prohibiting firms from using any logos or branding on packages of tobacco products.

Mr. Justice Green, sitting in London, is being requested to decide on the lawfulness of the new "standardized packing" restrictions in a judicial overview action by Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.

The challenge is being contested by Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who states that the rules are legitimate. At the start off of an projected six-day case, David Henderson QC, for Japan Tobacco International (JTI) explained the firms were "allowed to know" whether the restrictions "are legitimate or not". He told a packed court: "The claimants production goods which are legitimate, which lead to about £10 billion per year in excise duty only for the UK exchequer, which are utilized by most  of 19% of the adult population, and which the Secretary of State ... has never sought to prohibit." Mr. Anderson, mentioning the written legal submissions before the court on the part of the Secretary of State, explained he was "quite incorrect when he says that we are attempting to guard our capability to market the free and clear by legit legislation".

The QC demonstrated that "on the contrary" the industry was "controlled in a way practically unprecedented in any other field". At the heart of the event are the Standardized Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015, which the firms claim will destroy their extremely valuable property rights and make products identical. Under the rules, any part of tobacco packaging not insured by the health warning carried on it should be a dark brown or green color, and brand names have to be in small, non-distinctive lettering. The Government states that the new action will dissuade more people from smoking.

By Clark Moore, Staff Writer
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