In a judgment handed down on 19 May 2016, Mr Justice Green has rejected legal challenges brought by the world’s largest tobacco manufacturers to UK legislation introducing standardised packaging of tobacco products, which is due to come into force on 20 May 2016.
The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015, which implement part of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (Directive 2014/40/EU), will substantially limit the ability of tobacco companies to advertise their brands or logos on cigarette packets or cigarettes themselves.
British American Tobacco, Philip Morris, JT International and Imperial Tobacco (together with tipping paper manufacturers) challenged the Regulations as unlawful under international law, EU law, and domestic common law, focusing on alleged breaches of their intellectual property rights. They also argued that the Regulations were disproportionate in light of data from Australia, which they argued showed that its plain packaging legislation has failed to reduce smoking.
In a judgment exceeding 180,000 words, Mr Justice Green upheld the lawfulness of the Regulations and rejected every ground of challenge advanced by the tobacco industry. The judge found that the Regulations were proportionate, both when they were promulgated by Parliament and in light of the most up to date evidence. Green J provided useful guidance on how courts hearing proportionality challenges should handle complex technical evidence.
The full judgment can be read here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2016/1169.html
Dinah Rose QC, Brian Kennelly QC and Jason Pobjoy acted for Imperial Tobacco.
James Eadie QC and Catherine Callaghan acted for the Secretary of State for Health.