Euro court fails to back tobacco firms’ move

British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco have hit a hurdle in their attempt to have the European Union’s directive on health warnings on cigarette packs ruled illegal.

The two took the EU to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), arguing that it is not allowed to set rules on health and must leave such matters to the individual member states. The directive, due to come into force across the EU by 2003, requires manufacturers to put much bigger health warnings on packs than those that are currently being used by tobacco manufacturers.

But Leendert Geelhoed, advocate general of the ECJ, ruled yesterday (Tuesday) that the EU could impose the directive because it was a matter of single-market harmonisation. He added that if it was left to the 15 member states to make individual tobacco labelling laws, the result would effectively be the creation of trade barriers within Europe.

Geelhoed also ruled that the EU could require cigarette packs made for export to non-EU countries to carry the same health labelling as those sold inside the EU.

Ruling on a separate challenge brought by Japan Tobacco, Geelhoed said the EU can also ban terms such as “light” and “mild” on packs for sale in the EU but not on packs for export. Japan Tobacco owns Mild Seven, the world’s second-biggest cigarette brand after Marlboro.

The 15-member ECJ is not required to follow the advocate general’s rulings, but it almost always does. The ECJ will issue its judgement later this year.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here