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Health for Millions v. India - Tobacco Control Laws
India passed The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) in 2003, before becoming a party to the FCTC. In 2005, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare exercised the powers granted to it by COTPA by promulgating rules on tobacco advertising. These rules included restrictions on advertising allowed at point-of-sale, such as requiring a health warning, limiting the size of the advertising, and prohibiting lighting or pack images. The rules also included a definition of indirect advertising. The tobacco industry challenged the Rules in Mumbai High Court, and the Court issued an interim order staying the implementation of the Rules.
NGOs, including Health for Millions, filed a petition before the Supreme Court and in one High Court on this matter. On January 4, 2013, the Supreme Court stayed the Mumbai Court’s 2005 interim order that prevented implementation of the Rules.
Action against Government to Advance the Public InterestAn individual or organization may sue their own government in order to advance or protect the public interest. For example, an NGO may sue the government claiming the government’s weak tobacco control laws violated their constitutional right to health.
Tobacco Control Topics
Contents and Disclosures MeasuresMeasures for testing, measuring, regulating, or disclosing the contents and emissions of tobacco products.
(See FCTC Arts. 9 and 10)
Packaging and Labeling MeasuresMeasures to regulate the marketing on tobacco packages. This includes both bans on false, misleading, deceptive packaging, as well as required health warnings on packaging.
(See FCTC Art. 11)
Right to Freedom of ExpressionA violation of the right to expression, free speech or similar right to express oneself without limitation or censorship. The industry may claim that a regulation infringes on their right to communicate with customers and the public. Similarly, they may claim that mandated warnings infringe on their freedom to communicate as they desire.
Right to PropertyA violation of property rights, sometimes in the form of an expropriation or a taking by the government. The tobacco industry may argue that regulations amount to a taking of property rights because they prevent the use of intellectual property such as trademarks.
PreemptionThe subject matter of the case should be dealt with at a state level or national level.
Procedural DefectThe court might consider procedural matters without touching the merits of the case. These might include: improper joinder, when third parties, such as Health NGOs or government officials, seek to become parties to the suit; lack of standing, where a plaintiff fails to meet the minimum requirements to bring suit; lack of personal jurisdiction, where the court does not have jurisdiction to rule over the defendant; or lack of subject matter jurisdiction, where the court does not have jurisdiction over the issue at suit.
Type of Tobacco Product
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