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Major Tobacco Control Litigation Victories

The CTFK international legal consortium has compiled a list of significant government victories over tobacco industry challenges to WHO FCTC measures. We have selected cases brought by multinational tobacco companies or trade groups representing those companies.

Region

Country

Case

Year

African Region Kenya

British American Tobacco Ltd v. Ministry of Health

BAT appealed a ruling that upheld Kenya’s Tobacco Control Regulations including requiring graphic warning labels, expanding smoke-free places, and limiting interactions between the tobacco industry and government officials. The appeals court affirmed the earlier decision and ruled that BAT's appeal had no merit.
Policies: pictorial health warnings; smoke-free places

2017
Western Pacific Region European Union

R (on the Application of) Philip Morris Brands SARL et al. v. Secretary of State for Health

PM and BAT sought judicial review of the UK's decision to implement the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), and the case was referred to the Court of Justice of the EU on questions of EU law. The Court upheld all aspects of the TPD, including pictorial warnings, a menthol ban, and the potential for countries to enact plain packaging.
Policies: pictorial health warnings; prohibiting sale of menthol products; plain packaging

2016
European Region France

Japan Tobacco International and Others v. Ministry of Health (plain packaging laws)

JTI, PMI, BAT and others brought six legal challenges against France's plain packaging regulations. The Conseil d’Etat (the highest administrative jurisdiction in France) dismissed all six challenges, holding that to the extent there is any infringement of property rights, the infringement is justified by the public health objective.
Policies: plain packaging

2016
European Region

BAT v. UK Department of Health

Major tobacco companies challenged the UK's plain packaging restrictions. In an extensive ruling, the High Court of Justice dismissed the tobacco companies' claims, finding that the plain packaging restrictions were justified, did not violate the tobacco companies' property rights, and were supported by the WHO FCTC. 
Policiesplain packaging

2016
South-East Asian Region India

Karnataka Beedi Industry Association v. Union of India

Pro-tobacco groups challenged India's rules increasing graphic health warnings to 85 percent of tobacco product packaging. The Supreme Court of India consolidated the various cases and ruled that the graphic health warnings may be implemented while the lawsuit continues. 
Policies: pictorial health warnings

2016
Americas Region Panama

British American Tobacco Panama v. Panama

BAT Panama and others challenged a decree banning point of sale displays. The Supreme Court upheld the decree, finding no violation of tobacco companies' intellectual property rights or consumers' rights to access information. The court referenced the WHO FCTC Article 13 guidelines.
Policies: point of sale display ban

2016
Americas Region Uruguay

Philip Morris SÀRL v. Uruguay

PMI brought an investment arbitration claim alleging that two of Uruguay’s packaging laws (large warnings and a single presentation/brand requirement) violated a Bilateral Investment Treaty with Switzerland. The Tribunal ruled in favor of Uruguay, and highlighted the importance of the WHO FCTC in setting tobacco control objectives.
Policies: pictorial health warnings; single brand representation

2016
Americas Region Argentina

Nobleza Piccardo v. Provincia de Santa Fe

A BAT affiliate unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of a subnational law that banned tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The Argentine Supreme Court ruled that the law is a reasonable restriction on commercial freedoms given the harm caused by tobacco. 
Policies: advertising, promotion and sponsorship

2015
Americas Region Canada

Imperial Tobacco Canada v. Attorney General of Quebec

Tobacco companies challenged the constitutionality of a law allowing the government to sue tobacco manufacturers to recover the health care costs for individuals with tobacco-related illnesses. The Appeals Court of Quebec upheld the constitutionality of the law and dismissed the tobacco company’s appeal.
Policies: health care cost recovery

2015
Americas Region Colombia

British American Tobacco Colombia v. Ministry of Health

A Ministry of Health administrative decision found the expressions “Click & On,” “Click & Roll,” “Krystal Frost,” “Filter Kings,” and “Frozen Nights” on tobacco product packages a form of deceptive advertising. The State Council rejected a challenge by BAT Colombia, agreeing that the terms are deceptive and that the administrative decision did not violate the tobacco company's intellectual property rights. 
Policies: pictorial health warnings; misleading packaging and labeling

2015
South-East Asian Region Sri Lanka

In the matter of Article 122(1)(b) of the Constitution

The Sri Lankan President sought judicial review of a bill that would require pictorial health warnings to cover 80% of each tobacco pack. Ceylon Tobacco intervened in the case opposing the pack warnings. The Supreme Court ruled that the pack warnings do not violate the constitution and referenced the importance of protecting public health. 
Policies: pictorial health warnings

2015
Americas Region Peru

British American Tobacco of Peru S.A.C. v. Congress of the Republic

BAT challenged a law prohibiting the sale of tobacco packs containing fewer than 10 cigarettes, alleging that the law violated the freedom of enterprise and industry. A Civil Chamber of the Superior Court rejected an appeal by BAT and affirmed the earlier decision, which found that the measure complies with the proportionality principle.
Policies: minimum pack size

2015
European Region Netherlands

Dutch Association of CAN v. Netherlands

The Netherlands created an exception for small cafes in the country's law banning smoking in public places. A tobacco control organization challenged the exception as a violation of the WHO FCTC, which requires parties to prohibit smoking in all indoor public places. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court that law's small cafe exception violated the FCTC and was illegal.
Policies: smoke-free places

2014
Americas Region Panama

British American Tobacco Panama v. Executive Decree No. 611

BAT challenged the constitutionality of a point of sale display ban. The Supreme Court upheld the ban and noted that even freedom of expression could be restricted if necessary to protect public health.
Policies: point of sale display ban

2014
South-East Asian Region Thailand

JT International (Thailand) v. Minister of Public Health

Japan Tobacco challenged a requirement of 85% pack warnings. The Supreme Administrative Court found that the requirements are not outside the intended scope of the tobacco control law and allowed implementation of the pack warnings while the case is ongoing. 
Policies: pictorial health warnings

2014
South-East Asian Region India

Health for Millions v. India

Tobacco companies challenged government rules on tobacco advertising, including limits on point of sale advertising and health warnings. The Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision which had prevented implementation of the rules. 
Policies: advertising, promotion, and sponsorship

2013
Western Pacific Region Australia

JT International SA v. Commonwealth of Australia

Tobacco companies challenged the constitutionality of a law requiring "plain" packaging of tobacco products, including large graphic health warnings. The High Court upheld the constitutionality of the law. The Court ruled that although the government had "taken" the property of the tobacco companies, there had been no "acquisition" because neither the Government nor any third party acquired any benefit as a result. 
Policies: plain packaging; pictorial health warnings

2012
Americas Region Costa Rica

Legislative Consultation with Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court

This decision is an official consultation by ten legislators to the Constitutional Court regarding the constitutionality of Costa Rica's broad tobacco control legislation. The Court declared the law constitutional and explained that the country has the power to place effective restrictions on tobacco with the goal of protecting public health. 
Policies: advertising, promotion and sponsorship; smoke-free places; minimum pack size; taxation   

 

2012
European Region Norway

Philip Morris Norway v. Health and Care Services of Norway

Philip Morris Norway challenged Norway's ban on the display of tobacco products at retail establishments. The Oslo District Court upheld the ban, determining that it is necessary to denormalize tobacco use and that no alternative, less intrusive measure could produce a similar result.
Policies: product display ban

2012
African Region South Africa

British American Tobacco South Africa (PTY) Ltd. v. Minister of Health, et al.

BAT challenged the constitutionality of a law prohibiting  advertising or promotion of tobacco products. The Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling finding the law constitutional. The Court found that the limitation on speech was justified by the hazards of smoking. 
Policies: advertising, promotion and sponsorship

2012
European Region

The Queen on the Application of Sinclair Collis Ltd v. Secretary of State for Health et al.

Vending machine operators challenged a ban on cigarette vending machines as a violation of an EU treaty regarding restrictions on imports. The Court of Appeal rejected the lawsuit. The Court found that the ban is a lawful way to reduce youth smoking and noted support in the WHO FCTC for a vending machine ban. 
Policies: vending machines

2011
Americas Region Peru

5000 Citizens v. Article 3 of Law No. 28705

Five thousand Peruvian citizens challenged the constitutionality of an article of the tobacco control law that completely prohibits smoking in certain public places, including outdoor areas of educational facilities. The Constitutional Court dismissed the lawsuit. The Court confirmed the constitutionality and legality of the law, finding that the smoking ban was the ideal means to comply with the WHO FCTC. 
Policies: smoke-free places

2011
Americas Region Colombia

Caceres Corrales v. Colombia

Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of legislative measures banning the advertisement and promotion of tobacco products, arguing that the measures violate the freedoms of economy and enterprise. The Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, citing the country's obligations under the WHO FCTC.
Policies: advertising, promotion and sponsorship; freedom of economy and enterprise

2010
Americas Region Panama

British American Tobacco v. Government of Panama

BAT challenged a decree requiring smokefree environments and banning tobacco advertising. The Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice upheld the decree based on the constitutional right to health and the objectives of the WHO FCTC.
Policies: smoke-free places; tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; enforcement

2010
Americas Region Uruguay

Abal Hermanos, S.A. v. Uruguay

A PMI affiliate challenged the constitutionality of a law under which the Ministry of Health required health warnings to cover 80% of the principal display areas of tobacco packages. The Supreme Court found the law constitutional and noted that it was based on the WHO FCTC. 
Policies: pictorial health warnings

2010
Americas Region Brazil

Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária (ANVISA) v. Souza Cruz S/A

Tobacco company Souza Cruz challenged a resolution that mandated all tobacco packaging and advertising warn consumers of the health risks associated with smoking. The Regional Federal Court upheld the resolution, finding that the government agency did not exceed its powers. 
Policies: pictorial health warnings

2009
Americas Region Brazil

Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária (ANVISA) v. Souza Cruz S/A

Tobacco company Souza Cruz sued the government for shutting down smoking points in the International Airport of Rio de Janeiro-Galeão. The Superior Court of Justice overturned an earlier decision and ruled that the tobacco company's "smoking points" violated the law and must be closed.
Policies: smoke-free places

2007
South-East Asian Region Sri Lanka

Ceylon Tobacco Company Ltd., et al. v. Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva, et al.

Tobacco companies sued government officials, challenging a tobacco control law that would prohibit smoking in enclosed public places. The Supreme Court found the law constitutional, ruling that exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful to public health and a law could be validly enacted to prevent such exposure in enclosed public places. 
Policies: smoke-free places

2006
South-East Asian Region India

Deora v. India & Ors

An Indian businessman sued the government arguing that smoking in public sacrifices non-smokers’ health and lives without due process under the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court acknowledged the harms caused by smoking and prohibited smoking in eight types of public places. 
Policies: smoke-free places

2001

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