Gallaher breaks ranks over European cigarette tar limits

Tobacco manufacturer Gallaher has clashed with rivals British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Tobacco over the two companies’ reasons for mounting a legal challenge against the European Directive on Tobacco Control.

Gallaher says it supports the proposed 10mg per cigarette limit on tar in cigarettes sold in the EU. The other two companies oppose the limit. The current limit is 12mg.

Gallaher head of corporate affairs Ian Birks says the company is not challenging the directive because it wants to work with the UK Government to pass it into law by September 2002.

He says: “We will argue our case in the public arena. European governments have responsibilities for people’s health and we don’t challenge those.”

Birks adds: “There are some things we wouldn’t seek to change. In terms of the 10mg tar level, the limit would create a level playing field and if that’s the right thing for health reasons we wouldn’t pick a fight on that issue.”

BAT, backed by Imperial, hopes to get the European Court of Justice to overrule the EU directive that enforces the new tar limit.

A statement from BAT says: “The company believes that the EU has no constitutional power to harmonise the laws of member states on health policy when there is no internal market need.”

Imperial questions whether the 10mg limit “will achieve the health goals identified by the commission”.

The directive should become law in the UK by 2002.

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