JTI to appeal plain packaging ruling

JTI to appeal plain packaging ruling

Tobacco company Japan Tobacco International (JTI) is to appeal a London High Court rejection of its legal challenge to UK legislation introducing plain packaging for tobacco products.

The case was brought by four of the world’s biggest tobacco firms who claimed UK government rules to introduce standardised packs were unlawful.

However, in his ruling on May 19, Mr Justice Green said the regulations were lawful when put forward by Parliament and “are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence”.

Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and JTI had used a judicial review action to oppose the legality of the regulations.

Mr Justice Green’s decision came within weeks of Europe’s highest court rejecting similar legal challenges against EU alterations to pack sizes and larger health warnings.

However, JTI said they will appeal the High Court decision, claiming plain packs will not have the claimed effect on smoking rates.

The company quoted a study in Australia which was inconclusive about the power of plain packs to reduce smoking.

JTI said the decision also set a “dangerous precedent” for intellectual property rights and investment. It claimed other consumer goods industries should worry their branding is “under threat” from “political opportunism”.

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.”

Daniel Sciamma, general manager of JTI UK, responding to the high court ruling

Smoking cessation group ASH, welcomed the ruling describing it as a “landmark judgement”.

Chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “This is a crushing defeat for the tobacco industry and fully justifies the Government’s determination to go ahead with the introduction of standardised packaging.

“Millions of pounds have been spent on some of the country’s most expensive lawyers in the hope of blocking the policy. This disgraceful effort to privilege tobacco business interests over public health has rightly failed utterly.”