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Tobacco manufacturers requested both the annulment of and, in the interim, a suspension in the implementation of plain (or standardized) packaging. The court denied their request for a suspension, finding that there would be no irreversible damage to the manufacturers' reputations since they are still permitted to use their brand names on the new package format. The court also concluded that the transition period allotted by the legislation was sufficient in length. Finally, the manufacturers failed to prove that they would incur financial consequences large enough to justify suspension of implementation.
Applicants filed an action for annulment of Belgium's tobacco control legislation. The Court struck down exemptions to the law that permitted smoking in certain establishments whose principal activity was to provide drinks on site and wherein only pre-packaged food was served. The Court found that these exceptions violated the Belgium Constitution, the Revised European Social Charter, and the European Convention on Human Rights, including the rights to equality before the law, non-discrimination, respect for private and family life, dignity, safe and healthy working conditions, and protection of health. The Court stressed the need to consider the protection of health in combination with Article 8 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) when addressing tobacco control legislation. According to the Court, the exposure to tobacco smoke could not be reasonably justified based on whether and what type of food was for purchase. The additional challenge to provisions of the legislation that allowed for designated smoking rooms was unsuccessful as the Court would not find that smoking rooms amounted to a violation of any rights.
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