Cubacigar Benelux NV v. State of the Netherlands (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport)
Cubacigar Benelux NV v. State of the Netherlands (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport), Hague Court of Appeal, 30 June, Case Number: 2020. 200.269.353 / 01.
- Jun 30, 2020
- The Hague Court of Appeal
Plaintiff Cubacigar Benelux NV
Defendant State of the Netherlands (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport)
Tobacco and Smoking Products Act (Act of March 10, 1988, Measures to Reduce Tobacco Use, and in particular to Protect the Non-Smoker) (as amended)
Type of Litigation
Challenge to Government Policies Relating to Tobacco Control/Public Health
Tobacco companies or front groups may challenge any legislative or regulatory measure that affects their business interests. Unlike public interest litigation, these cases seek to weaken health measures. These cases frequently involve the industry proceeding against the government. For example, a group of restaurant owners challenging a smoke free law as unconstitutional.
Tobacco Control Topics
Packaging and Labeling Measures
Measures 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 of Freedom of Movement and Residence
A violation of freedom of the right to travel, reside in, and/or work in any part of the state where one pleases within the limits of respect for the liberty and rights of others. Smokers may claim that smoke free laws violate this right.
Type of Tobacco Product
Cigars, cigarillos, bidis, and other similar products
Any combustible tobacco product that is designed to be smoked – other than cigarettes – including cigars, cigarillos, little cigars, blunts, and bidis or beedis (small, flavored filterless Indian cigarettes).
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.