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Argument: Right to Equal Protection

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Search Results Results 1-10 of 68

Tabacalera Sarandí S.A. v. Argentine Tax Authority (AFIP) [Argentina] [May 13, 2021]

Tabacalera Sarandí S.A. had obtained a preliminary injunction to suspend the application of the minimum amount of a tax established for the commercialization of tobacco. Thus, the company could apply the tax rate (70%) on the retail price without considering the minimum amount. The company argued that this minimum put it at a disadvantage with other multi-national tobacco companies. The Argentine Tax Authority appealed the decision, saying that the ruling affected the public interest and the extra-fiscal purpose of the tax, which is the protection of public health. The Supreme Court ruled that the tobacco company had not sufficiently demonstrated its injury and did not prove the requirements to be granted with the injunction. Thus, the Court revoked the injunction.

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

The Korea Electronic Cigarette Association challenged the constitutionality of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s guidance urging the public to stop using e-cigarettes at least until a safety management system could be put into place and research into human toxicity was completed. The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, holding that the guidance did not infringe on e-cigarette companies' constitutional rights. The ministerial guidance did not amount to an "exercise of government power" because it had no direct legal effect on the rights and duties of the people and is, therefore, not subject to adjudication on a constitutional complaint.

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.

[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.

Council for Harm Reduced Alternatives v. State of Karnataka [India] [August 27, 2019]

Council for Harm Reduced Alternatives (Council) challenged a June 15, 2016 Government of Karnataka circular that prohibits the manufacture, sale, distribution, trade, import, and advertisement of e-cigarettes.  Public health group, Verve Foundation Trust, intervened.  At an initial hearing, the court refused to stay implementation of the circular.  In a subsequent hearing, the court observed, "it is expressly clear that the petitioner which is . . . claiming to act in public interest is in fact espousing the cause of manufacturing units of ENDS."  The court further stated that the petitioner has abused the court's jurisdiction and wants only to lift Karnataka's ban on e-cigarettes to ensure that manufacturing companies are benefited.  Without ruling on the merits of the ban, the court accordingly dismissed the litigation and imposed costs on the Council in the amount of Rs. 1,00,000/-.

Jaunait Consulting v. México [Mexico] [July 02, 2019]

The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) determined that electronic cigarettes cannot be banned under the interpretation of 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 Court found that this interpretation is unconstitutional since (i) the sale of tobacco products is allowed, and (ii) banning non-tobacco products without a proper justification violates the principles of equality, legality, proportionality, and non-discrimination.

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

Grişciuc, Simion v. Republic of Moldova [Moldova] [April 08, 2019]

On April 8, 2019, the Constitutional Court upheld the Tobacco Control Law’s provision banning tobacco sales from commercial establishments that are smaller than 20 m^2 (i.e., kiosks) and are located within 200 meters of educational and healthcare facilities. This provision was adopted in May 2015 and came into force on September 17, 2015, but the Moldovan Parliament passed an amendment delaying the effective date to January 1, 2019 for commercial establishments that were in existence before July 1, 2016.

A Member of Parliament filed a complaint alleging that the provision violated several articles of the Constitution, including equal protection, freedom of commerce and entrepreneurial activity, and protection of fair competition, among others.

In upholding the measure, the court concluded that the policy serves a legitimate aim – limiting access by minors and protecting the health of minors and patients – and there were no less restrictive alternative measures that would be as effective in achieving the objectives. The court also cited the four-year delay in implementation given to existing commercial establishments, concluding that this time period provided sufficient time to adapt to the new sales restrictions. The decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Vapeadores de México v. México [Mexico] [November 15, 2017]

Vapeadores de México asked the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) to whether the import, distribution, and sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids required the issuance of an authorization or license and/or health permit and what requirements must be met. COFEPRIS responded that the General Law on Tobacco Control does not contemplate that and that the importation and sale of those products are banned under the scope of Article 16(VI), which states: "It is prohibited to trade, sell, distribute, display, promote or produce any object that is not a tobacco product, that contains some of the brand elements or any type of design or auditory sign that identifies it with tobacco products." Unhappy with the response, Vapeadores de México filed an Amparo action alleging violations of the constitutional principles of equality, legality, and non-discrimination.

The Ministers of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) decided in unanimity 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 upheld previous courts' decisions, considering 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 these products in order to protect public health and the environment violates the right to equality and the proportionality principle since, at the same time, the sale of tobacco products is allowed.

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

Nicopure Labs, LLC v. Food and Drug Administration [United States] [July 21, 2017]

A manufacturer of e-cigarette devices and liquids challenged a federal regulation that deemed e-cigarettes to be “tobacco products.” This rule subjects e-cigarettes to the same federal laws as traditional cigarettes under the Tobacco Control Act (TCA). The manufacturer argued that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which issued the regulations, did not have the authority to regulate empty e-cigarettes or nicotine free e-liquids, because they were not made or derived from tobacco. The company also argued that the TCA’s ban on distributing free samples and pre-approval for modified risk statements was arbitrary and violated their First Amendment rights.

In this decision, the District Court upheld the FDA’s rule. The TCA gives the FDA the power to regulate “components” of tobacco products. The court found empty e-cigarettes and nicotine-free e-liquids are “components” of a tobacco product because together they make up an electronic nicotine delivery system. Further, the court found that the rule did not violate the manufacturers’ First Amendment rights because the ban on free samples was regulating conduct, not speech. The court also held that pre-approval for modified risk statements did not violate the First Amendment because it does not ban modified risk statements, it only requires the claims be substantiated. Finally, the court found because of the public health risks associated with nicotine and increasing rates of e-cigarette use in adolescents and adults, the decision to subject e-cigarettes to the TCA was not arbitrary. 

British American Tobacco Ltd v. Ministry of Health [Kenya] [February 17, 2017]

British American Tobacco (Kenya) appealed a 2016 court decision, which upheld nearly all elements of Kenya’s Tobacco Control Regulations. The appeals court ruled that the tobacco company’s appeal had no merit and affirmed the decision of the lower court. The earlier ruling 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 appeals court agreed with the lower court that the tobacco company had been given adequate opportunities for participation in the development of the regulations and that the regulations do not violate the tobacco company’s constitutional rights.