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BAT v. UK Department of Health [United Kingdom] [May 19, 2016]

The judgment dismissed all grounds of challenge against the UK's standardised (or "plain") packaging regulations. The judgment has significant wider implications because Mr Justice Green carefully considered all the evidence as part of the proportionality analysis, which will be similar to the justification analysis for plain packaging in most other jurisdictions. He was highly critical of the evidence put forward by the tobacco industry and provided a damning critique of individual studies and experts as well as making wider criticisms of the tobacco companies including that they failed to disclose any internal documents about their research or consideration of the impact of plain packaging on their business or smoking rates. He also linked his conclusions to the 2006 judgment of Judge Kessler in USA v Philip Morris Inc et al when she found, upon the basis of comprehensive evidence which included internal documents, that the tobacco companies were well aware of the strong causal nexus between advertising and consumer reaction.

The judge's conclusions on whether plain packaging amounts to an expropriation of the tobacco trade marks; on their claim for compensation; on the relevance of the FCTC and its guidelines; and on the compatibility with the WTO TRIPS agreement all have wider international relevance. 

A summary of the key findings that have wider application is in the additional documents. 

The McCabe Centre has produced an analysis of the key points for other jurisdictions which can be found here:  

Karnataka Beedi Industry Association v. Union of India [India] [May 04, 2016]

Using the powers conferred by India’s omnibus tobacco control law, the government introduced new graphic health warnings in October 2014 that, among other things, increased the graphic health warning size from 40 percent of one side to 85 percent of both sides of tobacco product packaging and amended the rotation scheme of the warnings.  The Karnataka Beedi Industry Association, the Tobacco Institute of India, and other pro-tobacco entities challenged the validity of the 2014 pack warning rules in five cases in the Karnataka High Court – Bengaluru, and the court initially stayed the implementation of the warnings via interim orders.  Following a petition by tobacco control advocates, the court lifted the stays, and a division bench of the court affirmed the decision on appeal.  The association and others challenged this ruling in the Supreme Court.  Paving the way for immediate implementation of the warnings, the Supreme Court, on May 4, 2016, directed that the matter be decided within six weeks in the Karnataka High Court by a bench constituted by the Karnataka Chief Justice and that any stays of the warnings in other high courts not be given effect until the conclusion of the matter.  The Supreme Court identified pending pack warning challenges in courts throughout India (more than 27 in number) and transferred these cases to Karnataka.  A Karnataka High Court ruling in this matter should resolve all challenges to the legality of the pack warning rules.  The case still is pending on the merits in Karnataka.

Karnataka Beedi Industry Association v. Union of India [India] [December 08, 2015]

The Karnataka Beedi Industry Association challenged the legality (as it relates to beedis) of an October 2014 Ministry of Health notification establishing pack warnings on 85% of both sides of tobacco product packaging.  Without ruling on the merits of the case, the court stayed the implementation of the pack warnings notification in a preliminary order. 

Nobleza Piccardo v. Provincia de Santa Fe [Argentina] [October 27, 2015]

Nobleza Piccardo, a BAT affiliate, challenged the constitutionality of a sub-national law that established a complete ban on tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship in the Province of Santa Fe. The tobacco company argued that this measure violated freedom of expression and commercial freedoms and that sub-national governments were not entitled to legislate in these matters. The Argentine Supreme Court ruled in favor of the sub-national tobacco control law, finding that this ban was a reasonable restriction of commercial freedoms. Considering the impact of tobacco use, the Court connected these measures to be obligations derived from the right to life and the right to health. With regards to freedom of expression, the Court found that commercial speech is not entitled the same level of protection as political or social speeches. The Court also understands that health is an area of concurrent power and thus shared by both the federal and the sub-national governments. Notably, even though Argentina has not ratified the FCTC, the Court uses it as an international standard for tobacco control policies. 

Inversiones Eivissa S.A.C. v. Ministry of Health et al. [Peru] [October 05, 2015]

A company that owns two stores located in Barranco Municipality challenged the validity of a city ordinance and Ministry of Health regulation which define enclosed public spaces. The company argued that the definition contained in the city ordinance and in the Ministry of Health regulation is stricter than the one established by Law No. 29517. In addition, it argued that this definition implied an illegal bureaucratic barrier which affects its commercial freedom. The Lima Superior Court agreed with the plaintiff and authorized the company not to comply with the ordinance or the regulation.

British American Tobacco Colombia v. Ministry of Health [Colombia] [September 24, 2015]

British American Tobacco (BAT) Colombia requested that the State Council annul a Ministry of Health administrative decision that did not approve the use of expressions “Click & On,” “Click & Roll,” “Krystal Frost,” “Filter Kings,” and “Frozen Nights” on tobacco products packages.  The Ministry’s administrative decision considered such expressions a form of deceptive advertising and thus prohibited under law 1335. A lower administrative court rejected BAT Colombia’s request, and the State Council, the highest judicial body for administrative matters, upheld the lower court’s decision.  The State Council found the expressions to be deceptive advertising and that economic freedoms must be restricted for the protection of the right to health, the right to life and the public interest.  Notably and responding to BAT’s allegation, the State Council found no expropriation of intellectual property.  The Council observed that intellectual property rights need to be exercised in conformity to human rights obligations. Moreover, responding to the argument that similar expressions had been approved in the past, the Council found that there was no violation of good faith and noted that tobacco control measures are expected to increase in light of further evidence.

British American Tobacco of Peru S.A.C. v. Congress of the Republic [Peru] [July 22, 2015]

British American Tobacco of Peru sued the Congress of the Republic, challenging the prohibition on sales of tobacco packages containing less than 10 cigarettes alleging that such a prohibition violates the freedom of enterprise and industry. This decision, from a Civil Chamber, rejects British American Tobacco’s appeal of the initial decision which had rejected the lawsuit. The Chamber agrees with the first decision and finds that the measures comply with the proportionality principle.

In the matter of Article 122(1)(b) of the Constitution [Sri Lanka] [February 06, 2015]

The Sri Lankan President sought judicial review of the constitutionality of a bill that would amend the tobacco control law to specify that pictorial health warnings should cover 80% of each tobacco pack, as well as increasing the fine for non-compliance.  A tobacco company, Ceylon, intervened in the case.  The tobacco company argued that the threat of illicit trade outweighed the health risks, but the court disagreed and noted that dependence on tobacco is harmful whether legal or illegal. The tobacco company argued that 80% pack warnings were unreasonably large and violated intellectual property laws, but the court disagreed, noting that attending to public health is of high priority, "perhaps the one at the top."  The court also noted that the ability of tobacco companies to engage in lawful trade and use its trademarks would not be hindered by the amendments. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is positively cited throughout the decision.  The Court held that the amendments did not violate any constitutional provisions. 

E-Cig Ltd. v. Ministry of Health [Israel] [December 03, 2014]

The Ministry of Health required a special permit for the import of any nicotine products to Israel as pharmaceutical drugs, except for smoking products. A company seeking to import electronic cigarettes challenged this decision arguing that electronic cigarettes are recreational products, rather than pharmaceuticals, and that the ministry has no authority to limit their freedom of occupation without any specific legislation banning electric cigarettes. The court noted that the goal of protecting the public from the risks of electronic cigarettes warrants a prohibition on their import and sale, however, this can only be done by the legislature; the Ministry of Health acted without authority and its decision is thus void.

British American Tobacco of Peru S.A.C. v. Congress of the Republic [Peru] [July 24, 2014]

British American Tobacco of Peru sued the Congress of the Republic, challenging the prohibition on sales of tobacco packages containing less than 10 cigarettes alleging that such a prohibition violates the freedom of enterprise and industry. This decision, from the Specialized Constitutional Court of Lima, rejects British American Tobacco’s claim, after performing a proportionality test of the measure.

The materials and analysis available at this website are for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.