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Pending Litigation Brought by Multinational Tobacco Companies against Governments

The International Legal Consortium at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids maintains a list of tobacco-related litigation currently before courts and tribunals around the world. This list contains claims challenging tobacco control measures that have been brought by the largest multinational tobacco firms through either the parent company or direct affiliate (unless otherwise noted). While we have attempted to include all legal challenges brought by multinational tobacco firms against governments, we cannot guarantee that this list is exhaustive.

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Pending Litigation

Bangladesh

Claimant/Plaintiff:

Bangladesh Cigarette Manufacturers Association - BCMA (Members include BAT)

General Claim:

The tobacco industry appealed a judgment declaring illegal a National Tobacco Control Cell notification that allowed the printing of the graphic health warning on the bottom 50% of tobacco packs and packages.

Procedural Status:

In November 2018, the BCMA obtained a 6-month extension to an order of stay. The matter remains pending - one in the Appellate Division and the other in the High Court Division.

(Last Updated 10/15/2021)

Belgium

Claimant/Plaintiff:

British American Tobacco Limited

General Claim:

British American Tobacco (BAT) is challenging plain packaging in Belgium. Plain packaging entered into force for manufacturers on January 1, 2020, and for retailers on January 1, 2021.

Procedural Status:

BAT filed a motion with the Council of State, Belgium’s highest administrative court. BAT's request for suspension of the application of the relevant legislation was denied on December 18, 2019.

(Last Updated 10/15/2021)

Brazil

Claimant/Plaintiff:

Souza Cruz Ltda. (BAT)

General Claim:

The tobacco industry challenged the constitutionality and legality of the requirement of including a 30% text health warning in the front face of the packs.

Procedural Status:

Submitted in May 2017. Pending before 7.ª Vara Federal do Distrito Federal. ACT submitted an amicus brief in September 2017 and was admitted in June 2021.

(Last Updated 10/15/2021)

Brazil

Claimant/Plaintiff:

Sinditabaco (members include BAT, JTI, and PMI)

General Claim:

Numerous tobacco companies and tobacco industry representatives, including Brazilian tobacco lobbying group Sinditabaco, which counts BAT, JTI, and PMI as members, have challenged ANVISA Resolution No. 14 of March 15, 2012, which prohibits the use of certain additives in tobacco products. (ANVISA is the Brazilian sanitary agency.)

Procedural Status:

Constitutional and legal challenges have been filed before the Supreme Court and several different federal tribunals and are at different stages in the judicial process. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of ANVISA´s resolution in February 2018, but due to a matter of quorum, the constitutionality of the resolution could be challenged in the ordinary instances. Subsequently, all three decisions issued so far in the Court of Appeal in federal tribunals have been in favor of the resolution's constitutionality.

(Last Updated 10/15/2021)

Colombia

Claimant/Plaintiff:

Coltabaco (PMI)

General Claim:

The tobacco industry is seeking to invalidate a local ordinance that banned the sale of tobacco products near educational and public health institutions in Popayan.

Procedural Status:

Pending. However, the local ordinance is not currently being enforced because of another claim submitted by an individual citizen that has represented the tobacco industry in other cases but is acting on his own behalf in this case. 

(Last Updated 06/08/2020)

India

Claimant/Plaintiff:

Godfrey Phillips (joint venture with PMI)
ITC, Ltd (BAT 30% shareholder)

General Claim:

The tobacco industry challenged the validity of the 2014 rules that require 85% graphic health warnings on both sides of tobacco product packaging.

Procedural Status:

Lower court ruled in favor of the tobacco industry.  Government and health groups appealed to the Supreme Court of India.  Petition submitted in January 2018.  Supreme Court stayed operation of lower court decision.  Matter to be decided soon on the merits.

(Last Updated 10/15/2021)

Pakistan

Claimant/Plaintiff:

Society for Alternative Media & Research (SAMAR) (as petitioner requesting government to implement 85% warnings)
Pakistan Tobacco Company (a subsidiary of BAT) (as third party intervenor requesting government to NOT implement 85% warnings)

General Claim:

The Ministry of Health has delayed implementation of 85% health warnings on several occasions, and, as of the date of this review, the new health warning requirements have yet to be implemented. Public health groups have challenged this delay in the Islamabad High Court, and the Pakistan Tobacco Company, a BAT subsidiary, has joined the case as third party.  In June 2018, 50% graphic health warnings went into effect in Pakistan.  Notwithstanding the new 50% warnings, the challenge to the 85% warnings remains pending.

Procedural Status:

The matter remains pending.  Additional hearings in the near future.

(Last Updated 06/08/2020)

United States

Claimant/Plaintiff:

E-Cigarette manufacturers
Cigar manufacturers
Trade associations
Retailers

General Claim:

E-cigarette manufacturers, cigar manufacturers, trade associations, and retailers sued the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the FDA published its deeming rule, extending the agency's regulatory jurisdiction over tobacco products to e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and other products that had not yet been regulated by the FDA. The cases allege, inter alia, violations of the First Amendment, Administrative Procedure Act, and Appointments Clause.

Procedural Status:

There are around 10 cases, filed from 2016 through 2019, brought by plaintiffs that include legal challenges at various legal stages. One case deemed it within FDA’s purview to require e-cigarettes to receive premarketing authorization. Further, the court found the free sample ban and pre-marketing authorization requirement applicable to modified risk products constitutional. However, another case ruled FDA’s regulation requiring health warning labels unlawful as applied to cigars and pipe tobacco. Some cases were dismissed, a few were consolidated, and others are ongoing.

(Last Updated 11/12/2021)

United States

Claimant/Plaintiff:

Philip Morris USA Inc.
Sherman Group Holdings, LLC (subsidiary of Altria)

General Claim:

Phillip Morris USA Inc. and Sherman Group Holdings, LLC (a subsidiary of Altria) are challenging the constitutionality of the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) pictorial health warning label rule establishing the requirements of messages on 50% of packaging and 20% of advertising. R.J. Reynolds filed an earlier similar challenge to the FDA’s final rule. Plaintiffs allege that the health warnings violate the First Amendment.

Procedural Status:

The case was filed on May 6, 2020. The judge has postponed the effective date of the health warnings in the parallel R.J. Reynolds v. FDA litigation several times. The current effective date of the rule is now January of 2023. Briefing in the instant case has been suspended while the parallel case proceeds.

(Last Updated 11/30/2021)

United States

Claimant/Plaintiff:

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., which is wholly owned by BAT)
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. (subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., which is wholly owned by BAT)
ITG Brands LLC (subsidiary of Imperial Brands)
Liggett Group LLC

General Claim:

Several major U.S. tobacco companies, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (both subsidiaries of Reynolds American Inc., which is wholly owned by BAT) and ITG Brands LLC (a subsidiary of Imperial Brands), and other plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of the United States Food and Drug Administration's final rule establishing the requirements of pictorial health warnings on 50% of packaging. Plaintiffs allege that the health warnings constitute compelled speech and thus violate the First Amendment. Plaintiffs also allege several procedural violations.

Procedural Status:

The case was filed on April 3, 2020 and remains pending. The judge has postponed the effective date of the health warnings several times while the case is ongoing. The current effective date of the rule is now January of 2023.

(Last Updated 11/30/2021)

 

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