British High Court upholds graphic images on UK cigarette packs; law goes into effect in days

Believe it or not, this is one of the tamer warnings going onto British cigarette packs.

A coalition of tobacco companies lost a major decision this week in Great Britain. The companies — Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International — were challenging a law requiring the removal of all branding logos and fonts and plain packaging on all tobacco product as well as graphic warnings showing diseased gums and lungs, etc.

In a 386-page ruling, the High Court rules against the tobacco industry.

“It is wrong to view this issue purely in monetised terms alone,” the court ruled.

“There is a significant moral angle which is embedded in the regulations which is about saving children from a lifetime of addiction, and children and adults from premature death and related suffering and disease.”

Australia’s plain packaging law has been upheld by the Australian Supreme Court and by international courts.

Japan Tobacco International plans to file an appeal, but Philip Morris International announced that it will not.

From the Express:

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.”

Tobacco companies fought a similar law in Australia, which was upheld by the Australian Supreme Court. However, companies have continued to fight the law in international courts, arguing that it violated trade treaties with other countries. So far, that fight has failed.

Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “This landmark judgment 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.”

The tobacco industry has been able to fend off plain packaging laws in the U.S., however, as courts have ruled such laws violate the companies’ First Amendment rights.