Packaging law opposed by tobacco companies

Two of the largest tobacco companies are currently challenging the upcoming plain packaging regulations that will soon come into effect in the UK.

On Friday Philip Morris and British American Tobacco filed their legal petitions at the High Court in London.

The two companies are arguing that the new regulations are illegal because they will affect their trademark intellectual property. Blank packaging means tobacco companies cannot promote their trademark.

The packages will be plain without any images of a tobacco company’s trademark and will instead only have an image that warns against smoking.

The Department of Health has responded to the legal claims: “We will not allow public health policy to be held to ransom by the tobacco industry.

“Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of death in England, killing 80,000 people every year. We would not have gone ahead with standardised packaging unless we had considered it to be defensible in the courts.”

If Philip Morris and British American Tobacco are successful in their case they could potentially win a pay out from the British government.

A British American Tobacco spokesperson has made a comment about the case: “Legal action is not something we wanted to have to consider and is not something we undertake lightly, but the UK government has left us with no other choice.

“Any business that has property taken away from it by the state would inevitably want to challenge and seek compensation.”

Philip Morris’ senior vice-president Marc Firestone said they respect the authority of the government: “to regulate in the public interest, but wiping out trademarks simply goes too far.

“The UK government rushed out the regulations, with many serious questions left unanswered.”

In their case, both companies have stated the new regulation violates EU law.

The UK government hopes the new standardised packaging will discourage people from smoking especially younger smokers. Last month the new display law came into effect and this was another bid to decrease smoking.

Plain packaging regulations on tobacco will come into effect next year and so far other tobacco companies like Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco have voiced their complaints.

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