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Type of Litigation: Challenge to Government Policies Relating to Tobacco Control/Public Health

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Search Results Results 1-10 of 342

Cubacigar Benelux NV v. State of the Netherlands (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport) [Netherlands] [June 30, 2020]

Cubacigar Benelux NV (Cubacigar) appealed a lower court decision upholding packaging restrictions contained in the Tobacco and Smoking Regulations. Specifically, Cubacigar had challenged restrictions limiting the use of metallic foils and embossing (“glitter and glamor” elements) on cigar boxes. The lower court held that these restrictions in the Tobacco and Smoking Regulations did not conflict with the EU Tobacco Products Directive. The court also determined that although the packaging requirements restricted the free movement of goods, the requirements were justified from a public health point of view because they are aimed at reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products. Further, the requirements of the principle of proportionality were also met.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's decision that the packaging requirements under the Tobacco and Smoking Regulations are in line with the EU Tobacco Products Directive. The Court concluded that the government presented sufficient evidence demonstrating that the measures are justified on grounds of public health protection and are proportionate.

Australia - Tobacco Plain Packaging Final Ruling [Australia] [June 09, 2020]

The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its final ruling affirming that Australia’s pioneering law requiring plain packaging for tobacco products and finding it entirely consistent with WTO agreements. In particular, the WTO appeal ruling confirmed the original finding that the evidence shows that tobacco plain packaging laws "are apt to, and do in fact, contribute to Australia's objective of reducing the use of, and exposure to, tobacco products."

The appeal ruling also confirmed that:

  • Tobacco plain packaging is not more trade-restrictive than is necessary to meet its legitimate public health objective.
  • Trademark owners do not have a positive right to use their trademarks under WTO TRIPS agreement, but only the right to prevent third parties from using them.
  • Tobacco plain packaging is a justified restriction on the use of trademarks and does not violate trademark protections.

Korea Electronic Cigarette Association v. Ministry of Health and Welfare [South Korea] [March 17, 2020]

The Korea Electronic Cigarette Association challenged the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s directive, which held that e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are not safer alternatives for smokers who are trying to quit cigarettes. The association also disagreed with the claim that small amounts of vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent that has been linked to vaping-related lung injuries, had been found in some products. The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the Ministry of Health and Welfare because directives do not infringe on e-cigarette companies' constitutional rights, as they are only recommendations and are not legally binding.

British American Tobacco Kenya, PLC v. Ministry of Health [Kenya] [November 26, 2019]

British American Tobacco Kenya filed a petition to the Kenya Supreme Court appealing a 2017 Court of Appeal decision upholding nearly all elements of Kenya’s Tobacco Control Regulations. The Supreme Court ruled that the tobacco company’s appeal had no merit, dismissed the petition in its entirety and affirmed the decision of the lower court.

Both lower courts upheld nearly all elements of the Regulations, which are designed to implement the Tobacco Control Act, including:

- a 2% annual contribution by the tobacco industry to help fund tobacco control education, research, and cessation;
- picture health warnings;
- ingredient disclosure;
- smoke-free environments in streets, walkways, verandas adjacent to public places and in private vehicles where children are present;
- disclosure of annual tobacco sales and other industry disclosures; and
- regulations limiting interaction between the tobacco industry and public health officials.

The Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce v. State of Israel – Ministry of Health, Israeli Knesset, and Knesset Economics Committee [Israel] [November 25, 2019]

The importer and manufacturers' forum of vaporization products at the Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce challenged amendments to the Restriction of Advertising and Marketing of Tobacco Products Law passed in December 2018. The Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce specifically challenged the extension of tobacco-related restrictions to e-cigarettes, including an advertising ban, a display ban, and plain packaging, as well as a nicotine concentration limit of 20mg/ml for e-liquids. This case was dismissed.

National Council of Consumers and Users (Associazione dei Consumatori) v. two electronic cigarette manufacturers [names redacted] [Italy] [November 15, 2019]

The National Council of Consumers and Users, headquartered in Rome, petitioned a civil division at the Court of Rome on September 13, 2019 against two e-cigarette defendants to have their marketing removed on the internet (including via defendants’ own social media accounts), printed publications, and through organizing or sponsoring public events aimed at promoting e-cigarettes.

The Court found in favor of plaintiffs holding that “[i]n view of the "restrictive approach to the advertising of electronic cigarettes and liquid refill containers" aimed at achieving "a high level of protection of human health", clearly stated in Paragraph 43 of Directive 2014/40/EU, the defense argument shall be dismissed..

The Court ordered:

  1. Defendants’ remove all commercial communications related to electronic cigarettes and refill cartridges deemed unlawful (including content from their websites and social media pages and all unlawful content reposted by Defendants) within 15 days from the date of this judgment;
  2. Defendants will be fined € 500.00 for each violation and for each day of delay in the execution of this order; and
  3. Defendants are jointly liable to the reimbursement of all legal costs related to these proceedings in favor of plaintiffs and to a compensation of €6,000.00 in addition to administrative costs, VAT and CPA.

[Unnamed Actor] v. México [Mexico] [October 02, 2019]

An agent from the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) confiscated electronic cigarettes from the plaintiff under Article 16(VI) of the General Law on Tobacco Control, which states: "It is prohibited to trade, sell, distribute, display, promote or produce any object that is not a tobacco product which contains some of the brand elements or any type of design or auditory sign that identifies it with tobacco products." The plaintiff filed an Amparo action challenging the interpretation of Article 16. The Ministers of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) decided unanimously that it is unconstitutional to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes while, on the other hand, the sale of tobacco products is allowed in Mexico. The Court considered that even though the law seeks to protect the right to health, this cannot be done at the cost of an excessive affectation of other goods and rights. The Ministers agreed that prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes while the sale of tobacco products is allowed violates the right to equality, and that the measure is not the least restrictive to guarantee other constitutionally protected rights. As a result, they revoked the order from COFEPRIS and ordered the return of the seized goods to the plaintiff.

This ruling applies only to the plaintiff who was a party to this case. However, if the same court issues five judgments with identical holdings, the decision would be binding nationally. This is the third such decision by the Second Chamber.

Plume Vapour Private Ltd. v. Union of India [India] [October 01, 2019]

Plume Vapor challenges the government's ordinance banning the sale of e-cigarettes and seeks a stay on the ban's implementation.  The government asserts that a stay at this interim stage before affidavits and hearing is inappropriate.  In an interim order, the Kolkata High Court refused to stay the ban, but stayed the requirement for sellers to prepare a list of their existing stock of e-cigarettes and submit such stock to authorities for disposal.

(Heard along with a similar challenge from Woke Vapors.)

La Republicana S.A. v. State - Executive Branch [Uruguay] [July 24, 2019]

Compañía Industrial de Tabacos Montepaz S.A. and La Republicana S.A. challenged Decree No. 120/2019, issued by the executive branch, that requires plain packaging of tobacco products. The Court rejected the challenge and found that the decree is not clearly illegitimate, and therefore, the plaintiffs did not meet the required standard. The Court further held that Congress was the appropriate institution to approve plain packaging and impose restrictions on the tobacco industry (done via Law No. 19.723), and therefore, the executive branch did not exceed its authority when it issued Decree No. 120/2019. Additionally, the Court found that even though the implementation timeline might be strict (one year), the industry had prior knowledge given that there was a previous decree and a pending bill in Congress.

Philippine Tobacco Institute v. City of Balanga, et al. [Philippines] [July 22, 2019]

The Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI), whose members include Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc. and JTI Philippines, Inc., challenged a City of Balanga ordinance making the City's 80-hectare University Town and its three kilometer radius "tobacco free," meaning the sale, use and marketing of tobacco products and e-cigarettes are banned. In July 2018, the Regional Trial Court declared the ordinance unconstitutional and invalid. The City appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court's decision. The Court of Appeals concluded that the ordinance was invalid because it went beyond the provisions of Republic Act No. 9211, a federal law. (The federal law prohibits smoking in specified places and the sale of tobacco products within 100 meters of schools, playgrounds, and other facilities frequented by minors. The City ordinance, on the other hand, prohibits selling, distributing, using, advertising, and promoting tobacco products within University Town and within a three-kilometer radius.) The City's Motion for Reconsideration was also denied.