Plain packaging: way finally clear following EU court ruling
Europe's highest court has upheld an EU law which standardises cigarette packaging, following legal action from tobacco manufacturers
4 May 2016 | 0
The EU Court of Justice has rejected a legal challenge by British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International. The challenge was against tough new laws to standardise cigarette packaging and ban advertising of e-cigarettes. The ruling means that the long-mooted introduction of plain packaging here in Ireland can finally take place in the near future.
The tobacco industry has previously stated that plain packaging would serve a major blow to their profits, as well as offer a “bonanza” for the illegal and counterfeit cigarette trade. The ruling means that a precedent is set for other countries to crack down harder than ever on smoking, which causes an estimated six million deaths worldwide every year.
In its decision, the court said: “…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 legal challenge can be taken no further.
The Tobacco Products Directive will now take effect on 20th May, though a one-year period will be granted to allow retailers and manufacturers to sell existing stocks. Nonetheless, according to the Irish Cancer Society, plain packaging might be a reality as soon as within six weeks.