Europe’s Court of Justice Rules Against Big Tobacco Companies in Health Warning Law

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The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that members of the European Union have a distinct legal right to restrict the sale of electronic cigarettes as well as to approve any new laws that require that cigarette packaging contain graphic interpretations of tobacco related diseases to provide consumers with sufficient health warnings.

The court, based in Luxembourg, declared that the ruling will be in place this month but the 28 member countries can determine for themselves how they will implement the ruling. It will also allow countries to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes at all.

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The high court’s decision was brought about by a challenge from Phillip Morris and the British American Tobacco companies, among others, to appeal the law that was established first in 2014. This has been a precedent setting ruling that will allow other countries to determine how they will deal with the sale of tobacco products in their nations.

“The court finds that, in providing that each unit package and the outside packaging must carry health warning…the EU legislature did not go beyond the limits of what is appropriate and necessary,” the European Court of Justice announced.

The Tobacco Products Directive, as the decision is known, goes into full effect on May 20, but merchants will have a year to sell what stocks they have of cigarettes and other products that were manufactured prior to May 20. Under the ruling, menthol cigarettes will be completely banned by 2020.

On Wednesday, the highest court in India made a ruling of its own that requires that at least 85 percent of a cigarette packaging be covered with health warnings.

While the overall results will have to wait for a bit of a test period, Australia has been the only country that has already introduced plain packaging to their tobacco products in the spirit of what both England and France are looking to do after this decision. They have found that major brands have suffered by losing sales.



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