ENSP welcomes the European Court of Justice’s decision to reject challenges against the Tobacco Products Directive

ENSP welcomes the decision by the European Court of Justice, which on Wednesday 4th of May 2016 rejected all three challenges brought forward by the tobacco industry against the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

The charges posed by Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco seeking to invalidate TPD as a whole, or various provisions of the Directive, were rejected along with the Polish state’s challenges on the ban on menthol flavours in cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. The Court also rejected a third challenge brought by an electronic cigarette maker regarding the Directive’s provisions on e-cigarettes.

“The court finds that, in providing that each unit packet and the outside packaging must carry health warnings … the EU legislature did not go beyond the limits of what is appropriate and necessary,” the court explained.

In its judgment, the Court dismissed Poland’s challenge and pointed out that “…menthol makes tobacco products more attractive to consumers and that reducing the attractiveness of those products may contribute to reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and dependence among new and continuing users.”

Concerning the special rules for electronic cigarettes the Court notes that “…electronic cigarettes display different objective characteristics from those of tobacco products. Therefore, by submitting those cigarettes to a separate legal regime which is, moreover, less strict than the one applicable to tobacco products, the EU legislature has not infringed the principle of equal treatment.”

The legal challenge, which was also supported by Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Brands, cannot be taken any further and the TPD will take effect on 20 May as initially intended.

Dr Francisco Rodriguez-Lozano, President of ENSP expressed his delight at the announcement of this great success: “This is a major step forward for our work in tobacco control. The European Court of Justice has given a clear sign that the Directive is legitimate and shown its support in the battle against tobacco use in Europe. ENSP now urges all Member States to implement the Tobacco Products Directive without further ado.”  

Cornel Radu-Loghin, ENSP Secretary General notes that “The court decision enables countries to adopt standardised packaging by clarifying that Member States may go further than the requirements set out in the Directive. This measure has strong evidence of effectiveness in preventing the uptake of tobacco use especially among young people.”

To celebrate this step forward, ENSP and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) are hosting a conference on World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2016) at the European Parliament. The event aims to support the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to action on plain packaging, with a special focus on highlighting the evidence of effectiveness behind the measure. Hosted by MEP Gilles Pargneaux and MEP Brian Hayes, the event will also congratulate Member States, which have adopted plain packaging at national level and encourage the remaining countries to follow suit.

Note to editors:

ENSP is the European Network of Smoking and Tobacco Prevention.

The ENSP/ERS event is open to policymakers, healthcare professionals and other organisations working against tobacco and cigarette use in Europe. To find out more about the event and to register for free, please visit this link.

For further information on the decision please refer to the European Court of Justice Press Release.

For further information please contact Dominick Nguyen, ENSP Health Policy and Communications Manager: Dominick.nguyen@ensp.org

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