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British American Tobacco France vs. National Committee for Tobacco Control [France] [October 07, 2021]
British American Tobacco France (BAT France) appealed a lower court ruling (in "urgent proceedings") ordering the deletion of materials and content promoting e-cigarettes from the website "govype.com/fr" and ordering BAT to pay certain costs and damages. The appellate court ruled that some of the disputed content clearly constituted messages of an advertising nature, having the effect of promoting the quality and safety of the products (e.g., "Vype is a pioneer in the science of vaping"), touting the sensations that can be expected during consumption (e.g., "freshness is in the spotlight"), encouraging consumption through a loyalty program (e.g., "subscribe & save"), and highlighting the advantages of the product by comparing it to tobacco products (e.g., "vaping on average can cost 3 times less than a pack of traditional cigarettes"). These types of statements on a website that sells e-cigarettes do not fall within the exception in the law permitting posters "placed inside establishments marketing [e-cigarettes] and not visible from the outside." The court concluded that the "notion of a poster refers to the obvious requirement for a paper medium and not a virtual one." As a result, the court ordered BAT France to delete a number of promotional statements from the website and pay the National Committee for Tobacco Control damages (€30,000), irrevocable costs under the French Code of Civil Procedure (€8,000), and legal costs.
Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro v. Rock World SA, Souza Cruz Ltda, and Vega Fina Tabacaria Eireli [Brazil] [November 02, 2020]
The Public Ministry in Rio de Janeiro presented a civil action against Rock World SA, Souza Cruz Ltda, and Vega Fina Tabacaria Eireli for illegal advertising in the festival "Rock in Rio" 2017. On November 2, 2020, the court concluded that the defendants engaged in unlawful advertising during the festival. The illegal advertising included (i) visually ostentatious advertising of smoking products and (ii) "mobile sellers.” On the other hand, the sale of a kit that included cigarettes and a lighter with the logo of "Rock in Rio" was not recognized as an illegal practice. The defendants were sanctioned as follows – (1) Defendants were fined R$ 2,000,000.00 for collective moral damages. For individual material and moral damages, each consumer will need to prove individually the actual damage suffered. (2) Defendants must carry out counter-advertising in partnership with public universities and hospitals informing consumers about the risks, prevention, and treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and smoking cessation.
In addition to bringing this enforcement action against the illegal advertising that took place at the Rock in Rio 2017, the Public Ministry sought an interim judgment barring illegal promotional activities at the then upcoming Rock in Rio 2019 festival. In response to this request, the court issued a series of orders restricting the promotional activities at the 2019 festival.
Confederação Nacional do Turismo v. São Paulo [Brazil] [December 03, 2019]
The National Confederation of Tourism filed a lawsuit against a São Paulo (state-level) tobacco control law regulating smoke-free places. The judge considered that the action was impaired because, after the claim was filed, a federal law was enacted which regulated smoke-free places in a more comprehensive manner. The newly enacted federal law banned smoking lounges, which the challenged state law had already done.
Nicolás Parra Castro v. Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (Second Instance) [Colombia] [November 14, 2019]
The plaintiff, a member of “Educar Consumidores” NGO, filed a lawsuit to order the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) to inspect, monitor, and control the advertising and promotion of tobacco products and their derivatives. Specifically, the plaintiff requested that the judges order SIC to demand that Coltabaco and Philip Morris Colombia withdraw all advertising of IQOS devices. In the first instance, the Court denied the claim because the norms invoked by the plaintiff did not contain an imperative and enforceable mandate against the defendant. On appeal, the Court confirmed the previous decision since it also understood that the cited norms -although they established the general prohibition on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products and their derivatives - did not create a clear and concrete obligation that corresponded specifically to SIC.
Nicolás Parra Castro v. Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (First Instance) [Colombia] [September 25, 2019]
The plaintiff, a member of “Educar Consumidores” NGO, filed a lawsuit to order the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) to inspect, monitor, and control the advertising and promotion of tobacco products and their derivatives. Specifically, the plaintiff requested that the judges order SIC to demand that Coltabaco and Philip Morris Colombia withdraw all advertising of IQOS devices. In this case, the first instance, the Court denied the claim because the norms invoked by the plaintiff did not contain an imperative and enforceable mandate against the defendant.
M/S Marvelous Creations v. Deputy Commissioner of Customs [India] [May 08, 2019]
M/S Marvelous Creations (Marvelous) seeks release of a consignment containing such items as hookah flavorings, e-sheesha pens and e-liquid. The government retained these items because of Marvelous' failure to follow the procedures set out in the November 27, 2018 Drugs Controller General order calling for enforcement of an e-cigarettes ban. Marvelous asserted, however, that the November 2018 order had been stayed by the Delhi High Court and the government's retention of its consignment is due only to the pendency of this writ petition. The court ordered the release of Marvelous' consignment.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa v. Union of India [India] [January 19, 2019]
Manjinder Singh Sirsa requests the court to direct government authorities to prevent air pollution in restaurants and bars. Mr. Sirsa specifically alleges that hookahs contain hazardous substances and that the Delhi Pollution Control Committee should take action under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. By contrast, the government contends that hookahs are not hazardous. Noting that hookah is listed in the tobacco products schedule contained in India's omnibus tobacco control law, COTPA, the court dismissed the matter, finding that it did not possess jurisdiction to hear the application as its jurisdiction extends only to environmental questions.
J. Anbazhagan v. Union of India [India] [April 26, 2018]
J. Anbazhagan, a member of the legislative assembly in the State of Tamil Nadu, filed a writ petition to highlight the illegal manufacture and sale of gutka and pan masala in the state and to urge the High Court of Madras to order an independent investigation into the matter. Mr. Anbazhagan alleged such sales were carried out in collusion with several high dignitaries and bureaucrats, such as central excise officials, central government officials, officials from different state governments, including the Government of Tamil Nadu, councilors of the Chennai Corporation, and officials of the food safety department, among others. The Court observed that it was compelled to take up the case as the issues involved the right to health and directed that the Central Bureau of Investigation investigate the matter, since, among other reasons, central government officials allegedly were involved. In response to arguments made by the respondents, the Court also clarified that the definition of “food” under Section 3(j) of the Food Safety Act includes any substance, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, which is intended for human consumption and that the definition undoubtedly was wide enough to include gutka, and other forms of chewable tobacco/nicotine products intended for human consumption. The Court further clarified that India’s omnibus tobacco control law, COTPA, and the Food Safety Act were not in conflict, but were meant to be read in conjunction with each other as COTPA does not contain a non-obstante clause that excludes operation of other laws.
Ghumman v. National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination [Pakistan] [December 18, 2017]
Public health organization, Pakistan National Heart Association, through its General Secretary, Sana Ullah Ghumman, filed a complaint in the office of the Federal Ombudsman alleging that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Ministry of Health made inappropriate tax decisions which resulted in a reduction in price for certain tobacco products. The Ombudsman ruled that the government's departure from established practice amounted to maladministration under Article 2(1)(a) of President Order No. 1 of 1983. The Ombudsman directed the government to either mandatorily comply with Articles 6 and 15 of the FCTC, or intimate reasons for non-compliance under Article 11(2) of the President Order No. 1 of 1983, both within thirty days. The FBR appealed to the President's Secretariat. The Secretariat set aside the Federal Ombudsman's decision, finding that the Ombudsman did not possess jurisdiction to hear the matter as taxation strategy cannot be reviewed for maladministration and a tax bill passed by Parliament is not an act of an agency as required by the President's Order establishing Federal Ombudsman jurisdiction. The Secretariat further held that compliance with treaty obligations is a government policy issue and cannot be reviewed by judicial or quasi-judicial bodies like the Federal Ombudsman.
Karnataka Beedi Industry Association v. Union of India [India] [December 15, 2017]
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. After months of hearings, a two judge bench of the Karnataka High Court struck down the 2014 rules. One judge found the rules illegal, holding that the Ministry of Health did not possess authority to act unilaterally. Both judges found the rules to be arbitrary and unreasonable.