Philip Morris Baltic v. Department of Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control
Philip Morris Baltic v. Department of Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control, Ruling of 15 September 2020, Vilnius Regional Administrative Court (2020).
- Sep 15, 2020
- Vilnius Regional Administrative Court
Plaintiff Philip Morris Baltic
Defendant Department of Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control
Type of Litigation
Government Enforcement Action
Government, through its agencies and officials including prosecutors, may seek to enforce its health laws. For example, the government may revoke the license of a retailer that sells tobacco products to minors. These cases may also directly involve the tobacco industry, for example, a government might impound and destroy improperly labeled cigarette packs.
Tobacco Control Topics
Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
Measures restricting any form of direct or indirect tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. (See FCTC Art. 13)
Right to Freedom of Expression
A violation of the right to expression, free speech or similar right to express oneself without limitation or censorship. The industry may claim that a regulation infringes on their right to communicate with customers and the public. Similarly, they may claim that mandated warnings infringe on their freedom to communicate as they desire.
Right to Access to Information
A violation of the public’s right to information. The tobacco industry may claim that advertising, promotion or sponsorship, or packaging regulations limit the industry’s ability to communicate information to their customers and therefore infringes on the customer’s right to receive information, and to distinguish one product from another. Alternatively, public health advocates may claim that tobacco industry misinformation violates their right to accurate information or that government must be transparent in its dealings with the tobacco industry.
Tobacco Control Law Violation
A claim of a violation of a tobacco control law or statute.
Type of Tobacco Product
Heated tobacco products (HTPs)
Heated tobacco products (HTPs) are tobacco products that require the use of an electronic device to heat a tobacco insert (stick or pod of compressed tobacco). HTP systems are fully integrated so that the heating device and tobacco insert for each system must be used together.
Philip Morris Baltic ("Philip Morris") appealed a decision by the Department of Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control ("the Department") fining the manufacturer and distributor 2,896 Euros for illegal tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The violations and fines resulted from Philip Morris' "Lemiamas Metimas" campaign (the "Campaign"), which claimed to encourage individuals to quit smoking and presented heated tobacco and IQOS devices as an alternative product for those who were unable to quit. Philip Morris argued that the Campaign amounted to "social advertising" to inform smokers but not encourage the purchase of alternative products. Therefore, they claimed the tobacco control law did not prohibit the Campaign. Philip Morris also claimed that their right to disseminate the Campaign was within their right to freedom of expression under the Lithuanian Constitution. The court upheld the Department's decision and found that the Campaign amounted to the unlawful advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products and that the Campaign was designed to mislead consumers. Further, the court rejected Philip Morris' claim that their right to freedom of expression was violated, holding that social advertising should not be used to promote certain goods and services, including tobacco products and related products.