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Tobacco Firms Lose Court Challenge Over Packaging

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Tobacco companies have lost their High Court challenge over Government plain packaging rules, the day before they are due to come into force.

British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International had challenged the legality of the new "standardised packaging" regulations, due to come into effect in the UK on Friday.

All cigarettes manufactures for sale in the UK after this date must comply with standardised packaging regulations.

The firms put forward a number of grounds of challenge, including a claim that the regulations violate a number of UK and EU laws, and that they are "disproportionate" and "must be quashed".

Mr Justice Green, who heard the case in December dismissed all grounds of the the challenge by four of the world's biggest firms. He said: "The regulations were lawful when they were promulgated by Parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence."

The judge's decision comes after Europe's highest court recently rejected a series of legal challenges.

Under the directive, picture health warnings must cover 65% of the front and back of every packet of cigarettes, with additional warnings on the top of the pack.

It includes a ban on menthol cigarettes and "lipstick-style" packs aimed at women and a ban on promotional statements such as "this product is free of additives" or "is less harmful than other brands".

The Anti-smoking group ASH Chief executive Deborah Arnott said: "This landmark judgement is a crushing defeat for the tobacco industry and fully justifies the Government’s determination to go ahead with the introduction of standardised packaging.

"This disgraceful effort to privilege tobacco business interests over public health has rightly failed utterly.”

The tobacco companies are now considering whether or not to appeal.

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