Four of the world’s largest tobacco companies have started a legalized challenge to the government’s new packing guidelines. The new rules will prohibit companies from making use of any logos or branding on packages of smoking products starting May 2016.
Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International declare it will illicitly remove their trademark intellectual property. The government states the action will dissuade more people from tobacco use.
According to the new “standardized packing” restrictions, any part of tobacco packing not coated by the health warning carried on it have to be either dark brown or green color. Brand names ought to be in small, non-distinctive lettering.
The four leading cigarette makers claim the rules will eliminate their property rights and make products resemble to each other.
Japan Tobacco International’s lawyer, David Anderson QC, told the High Court the companies “produce lawful products” consumed by more than 19% of the adult population. He also added that their sales contributed to about £10bn in excise duty alone to the Exchequer.
The companies declare the regulations infringe a number of UK and EU regulations and that files from Australia, which released in plain packaging in 2012, is not able to prove such a step decreases smoking rates.
In written form to the judge, Philip Morris International asserted that the rules were “disproportionate and so must be eliminated”.
The company’s QC, Marie Demetriou, explained the offender was not able to show that the rules “strike a fair balance” between “public interest targets” and the needs of the claimants.
The rules would “considerably conflict with the claimants’ basic rights and freedoms”, she reported.
The Department of Health claims the modification is an essential public health strategy focused at discouraging children from lighting up and supporting smokers to give up.