Wednesday

23rd May 2018

Tobacco giants win judicial review on EU bill

  • The tobacco directive was one of the most heavily lobbied EU bills in history (Photo: lanier67)

The EU's recently-agreed tobacco directive will be challenged at the bloc's top court after cigarette giants won a judicial review to examine whether the bill's provisions of more health warnings and product bans is disproportionate and infringes single market rules.

At the High Court in London on Monday (3 November), High Court judge Justice Turner referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, the ultimate arbitrator on the validity of EU law. The ECJ is expected to take two years before making a decision, during which time the directive will remain in force.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The case was lodged in June by Philip Morris, the world's largest tobacco manufacturer, among a list of claimants including British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.

Any judicial review of EU legislation must be initiated from national courts, and the tobacco giants chose the UK's High Court because of its reputation as a “fast and efficient forum for private litigants”, according to a statement issued by the claimants.

The legislation, which was signed off just before May's European elections, was subject to a bitter battle between MEPs and ministers and was one of the most heavily lobbied EU bills ever.

The rules eventually agreed by lawmakers will phase out the selling of menthol cigarettes, require manufacturers to put 'smoking kills' labels covering 65 percent of packets, and impose limits on the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes.

The final bill, subject to over 1300 amendments, was a significantly watered down version of the proposal tabled by former EU health commissioner Tonio Borg, leading MEPs from the European Parliament's centre-left groups to accuse conservatives and liberals of being in the pocket of 'big tobacco'. Research for the European Commission has found that smoking kills around 700,000 people every year across the bloc.

In particular, lawmakers shied away from the move already taken by Australia to require plain packets for cigarettes, a total ban on advertising.

But the tobacco firms argue that the bill gives too much power to the European Commission and would lead to an illegal market for menthol cigarettes, which have become particularly popular among young people.

In a statement, Marc Firestone of Philip Morris said that the review marked "an important first step". The directive "purports to improve the internal tobacco market, yet instead includes a mix of product bans, mandates, and delegations of authority that raise serious questions under the EU Treaties," he said.

EU lawmakers agree tobacco bill

EU lawmakers reached an agreement on the new tobacco products bill after negotiators clashed on electronic cigarettes earlier in the week.

MEPs set up anti-tobacco group

A cross-party handful of MEPs have set up a group to tackle tobacco lobbying and its influence on policy-making.

Focus

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund
  2. Funding for European values needs radical changes
  3. Feeble EU format deflates Zuckerberg 'hearing'
  4. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  5. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption
  6. US asks EU to go after Russian and African villains
  7. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  8. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of advice to EU