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November 30th, 2016:

Tobacco giants lose legal battle over plain-packaging rules as new rules means packets of 10 will disappear

Some of Britain’s biggest tobacco firms have lost a legal battle in the Court of Appeal against plans for new plain-packaging rules

The companies were appealing a high court decision which upheld new rules to force firms to use plain and standardised packing for all their products.

The new rules ban tobacco companies from prominently branding their cigarettes and require that picture health warnings take up 65 per cent of the front and back of every packet.

Packets of 10 cigarettes are no longer allowed, as they do not have enough room for health warnings.

Additionally, promotional messages on packets like “is less harmful than other brands” are also banned.

Firms and shops have a year to get rid of their old stock and implement changes – after that, they will face penalties for breaking the law.

In May, they suffered what anti-smoking campaigners described as a ”crushing defeat” at the High Court.

The day before new regulations come into force, a judge in London had declared that they were ”valid and lawful in all respects”.

Mr Justice Green rejected a judicial review action brought against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Leading companies then took their case on to the Court of Appeal.

But on Wednesday, three judges in London rejected their challenge against the High Court’s decision.

A number of companies, including British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, challenged the legality of the ”standardised packaging”

They argued that the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 would destroy valuable property rights and render products indistinguishable from each other.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Lewison, Lord Justice Beatson and Sir Stephen Richards ruled that the Health Secretary had “lawfully exercised his powers”.

UK court rejects tobacco companies’ appeal on plain packaging

A UK court has dismissed an appeal brought by some of Britain’s largest tobacco companies over the government’s new plain packaging rules.

In its decision handed down on Wednesday, the court dismissed all appeals brought by British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, Imperial Brands and several paper manufacturers.

The companies argued that the law, which went into effect in May, unlawfully deprives them of their intellectual property by banning the use of all marketing on packages, including logos, colors and special fonts.

“This is a victory for public health and another crushing defeat for the tobacco industry,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health.

“This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardized packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.”

BAT, the world’s second-biggest tobacco company, called the decision “disappointing” and said it was considering its options carefully.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in London; Editing by Louise Heavens, Greg Mahlich)

CEO of Philip Morris, world’s largest tobacco company, says he may phase out cigarettes

Sick of hearing about how cool vaping is? Better get used to it, because the CEO of Philip Morris International recently mused that vapes will one day replace cigarettes — ideally, one day soon. The company has launched its IQOS “smokeless cigarette” in the United Kingdom, Reuters reported Wednesday, a step toward its potentially smokeless future.

“I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products … to start envisaging, together with governments, a phase-out period for cigarettes,” André Calantzopoulos told BBC Radio 4. He added that he hoped that moment would arrive “soon.”

Calantzopoulos heads the world’s largest international tobacco company, its 53 production centers in 33 countries making upwards of 870 billion cigarettes annually.

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills some 6 million people globally each year. During his interview with BBC, Calantzopoulos acknowledged the danger.

The CEO believes the IQOS — which is already available in Japan, Switzerland, Italy and a handful of other countries — is a safer alternative to cigarettes because it heats tobacco rather than burning it.

“We produce a product that causes disease and I think the primary responsibility that we have once the technology is available — and today the technology is available — is to develop products like these and to commercialize them as soon as possible,” he said.

Asked if Philip Morris wasn’t motivated by “concern for future business,” rather than concern for consumers, Calantzopoulos noted that PMI didn’t invent cigarettes and that, by 2025, the world will still be home to more than 1 billion smokers.

“I think, for us, [the responsibility] is to offer consumers the best product we can in a category that we all know is addictive and causes harm,” he said.

The IQOS isn’t a typical electronic cigarette running on nicotine juice. Rather, it’s an electronic holder in which consumers can insert mini-cigarettes. According to BBC, a pack of 20 will cost roughly $9.99. The device itself, which comes with a charger, resembles “a small, dumpy mobile phone,” to borrow BBC’s phrasing, and will run consumers around $56.

PMI hopes the IQOS will appeal more to cigarette smokers than e-cigs have. And while such alternatives appear to be far safer than traditional cigarettes, as Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, told BBC Radio 4, “We still need to be very cautious about what the industry’s up to.” Tobacco companies’ foremost interest is in selling tobacco.

“If Philip Morris really wants to see the end of smoking, then they have to stop promoting smoking to new young smokers around the world,” she said. “If these products can help adult smokers quit, then all well and good, but they still need regulating as tobacco products.”

For his part, Calantzopoulos vowed that Philip Morris will do “everything we can to convince them [smokers] to switch to this product.”

Big Tobacco threatens Supreme Court fight after losing plain packaging appeal

The world’s largest tobacco companies have threatened to take their battle against the Government’s plain packaging policy to the UK’s highest courts after losing their latest appeal against the branding crackdown.

The court of appeal today upheld legislation that forces all tobacco products to use uniform packaging in a ruling described by anti-smoking groups as a “crushing defeat” for the tobacco industry.

The latest blow to cigarette-makers British American Tobacco, Imperial, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International follows their failed court challenge in May this year, one month after the new anti-tobacco legislation came into effect.

Under the new rules all tobacco packaging must be olive green and include large images showing the negative health consequences of smoking as a visual deterrent.

Tobacco companies have repeatedly branded the move unlawful and say it will be ineffective at reducing smoking rates. They will continue to oppose the regulation despite a second legal defeat. The exception to the industry-wide defiance is PMI, which said in May that it would focus on developing its smoke-free products rather than fight the case.

Daniel Sciamma, the UK managing director of Japan Tobacco, said that the company was already considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“This commercial vandalism sets a dangerous precedent for other targeted industries, who must be concerned that their brands will now be under threat. We obviously disagree with the court’s decision as it endorses the confiscation of our brands,” Mr Sciamma said.

Meanwhile BAT warned that the court decision “does not necessarily mark the end of the challenge” and a spokesman for Imperial said that it was reviewing the judgement before considering its legal position.

Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett said the impact of plain packaging would weigh most heavily on Imperial and Winston and Camel maker Japan Tobacco, which both rely on the UK for around 15pc of their overall earnings

For Marlboro maker PMI and BAT, the UK market makes up less than 1pc of their business.

Despite the minority exposure to the UK market the tobacco companies still have a strong incentive to fight the clampdown, which could spur similar legislation in other markets.

“Seeing results such as this may actually encourage other markets to follow suit,” said Mr Bennett, adding that should other countries wish to implement plain packaging in the years ahead then the outcome of any challenges would most likely be the same.

ASH reaction to new Philip Morris IQOS ‘heat not burn’ product

Tobacco company Philip Morris has today launched IQOS, a potentially ‘reduced risk’ tobacco product in the UK. The device uses compressed tobacco in a ‘mini-cigarette’ form in a vapouriser. Unlike electronic cigarettes which vapourise nicotine suspended in a liquid, the IQOS heats and vapourises tobacco.

Globally, smoking killed 100 million people in the 20th century, many more than all deaths in World Wars I and II combined. If current trends continue tobacco-related deaths will number around 1 billion in the 21st century, mainly in low and middleincome countries. [1] In the UK alone, smoking still kills nearly 100,000 people every
year. [2]

ASH believes, therefore, in line with the Royal College of Physicians, that in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK. [3] Vapourised tobacco may also be substantially less harmful as the tobacco is not combusted to produce smoke.


Particularly because of the tobacco industry’s long record of deceit over the health risks of smoking, there is an urgent need for independent research into the level of harm these products may cause. Philip Morris accepts that IQOS is likely to be as addictive as smoking, so the risks of youth uptake need to be investigated. Furthermore, because the product is expensive, there also needs to be research on the economic and social cost of dependence, and not just on any physical harm. We understand that the UK Government has asked the independent Committee on Toxicity to look at the data; this is welcome but not sufficient. It should be noted that the tobacco industry, including Philip Morris, was found by the Judge in the recent case on standardised packaging to have submitted evidence which fell “significantly below internationally accepted best practice.” [4]

Although Philip Morris claims to be working towards a world without smoking, the company is still reliant on conventional tobacco and admits that it will continue to be so for many years to come. [5] In countries with relatively weak legislation, PMI is still using marketing and advertising tactics designed to promote smoking to young people, for example through its “Be Marlboro” campaign. [6]

ASH therefore believes that unless and until independent evidence shows that IQOS and similar products are substantially less harmful than smoking then these products should be regulated in the same way as other tobacco products.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“Philip Morris states that this is potentially a reduced risk product. If smokers switch to electronic cigarettes or other products that can be shown to cut the risks to their health, this could lead to a big improvement in public health. But we need independent evidence to support any claims made by the tobacco industry.

Philip Morris claims to be moving towards a post smoking future but, like other tobacco companies, it is still actively promoting smoking around the world, using methods that would be illegal in the UK. From past experience nothing the tobacco companies say should be accepted at face value. Fully independent research and assessment will be crucial if IQOS and related products are to be accepted as useful in fighting the smoking epidemic.”


Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: ASH receives core funding from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.