The ECJ has ruled against the industry’s challenge of the 2014 tobacco directive.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled against the tobacco industry’s challenge to the 2014 tobacco directive. The directive is being upheld in its entirety.
According to Wells Fargo, the directive effectively bans menthol cigarettes, requires health warnings to cover at least 65% of the front and back of product packages and sets limits on e-cigs including how much nicotine they can contain.
The industry is now concerned that national governments may soon go beyond the health warning requirement and implement plain packaging, Wells Fargo reported. Reportedly, the UK government wants to introduce plain packaging, an initiative that the industry is in the process of challenging. A decision is expected by May 18. Overall, we expect the industry will appeal today’s decision.
ECJ Plain Packaging Decision
According to the report from Wells Fargo, the ruling from the ECJ effectively leaves the plain packaging issue in the hands of individual Member States. Thus, Member States are left with the ability to decide whether to mandate plain packaging. Although the plain packaging issue is being left to Member States, the ECJ has requires that plain packaging ”respects” private property, upholds a ”competitive” marketplace, provides consumers access to information and complies with domestic, European and international law.
This ruling from the ECJ, while disappointing for the industry, is being viewed as a manageable risk, according to Wells Fargo. The industry is not being prevented from defending itself in the future, and the plain packaging law that has been in effect since late 2012 in Australia has failed to reduce overall smoking rates in a substantial way. Therefore, it is expected that this element of the ruling will not result in great risk for the industry.