Tobacco companies step up legal challenge

British tobacco companies have stepped up the legal backlash against the tobacco regulations with a legal challenge to the restrictions in the Republic of Ireland.

The case is understood to potentially have ramifications on the restrictions on tobacco and point-of-purchase advertising in the UK if Gallaher were to prove the Irish law “disproportionate” under European law.

Gallaher, which makes Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut, claims that parts of the smoking restriction laws in Ireland are “contrary to EU law” and “unconstitutional”. These areas include “the retail premises advertising ban” as well as the “definition of a tobacco product” under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 and the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2004.

Gallaher says that dialogue with the Department of Health and Children in Ireland have been unsuccessful and the company has no option other than to resort to legal action. A spokesman for Gallaher says he cannot say which parts of the law the company is challenging as the case is now in the hands of the company’s lawyers.

Last week, Gallaher, with rivals Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco, launched High Court action in the UK to contest restrictions on point-of-purchase advertising. The companies say the law is anti-competitive and unreasonable.

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