Philip Morris Norway AS v. The Norwegian State

An importer of tobacco products sued Norway before the Oslo District Court, alleging that the Norwegian ban on tobacco advertising, which included a prohibition on visual product displays in retail locations, was incompatible with the European Economic Area Agreement (EEA). Accordingly, quantitative restrictions on imports and measures having the same effect are prohibited unless they are justified by non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory public health grounds. Prior to issuing an opinion in the case, the district court requested two preliminary rulings from the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States (EFTA) Court (presented in this decision.)  The EFTA Court determined that if the ban did not affect the tobacco products manufactured in Norway as much as it affected the tobacco products imported from other EEA States, the ban would be incompatible with the EEA. Further, the EFTA Court declared that the district court would have to decide whether Norway’s ban was necessary -- that Norway’s legitimate health objective of reducing tobacco use could not be achieved by measures less restrictive than a tobacco product display ban.