ASH response to PMI’s legal challenge on standardised tobacco packaging

Friday 22 May 2015

Responding to the announcement by Philip Morris International that the company is intending to challenge the UK’s standardised packaging law, ASH’s legal advice is that the measure is compatible with European law and compensation would therefore NOT be due the tobacco industry.

A Legal Opinion commissioned by ASH found that standardised packaging is compatible with European law relating to trademarks and fundamental rights which do not prevent Member States from introducing legislation to protect public health. [1]

The tobacco industry has claimed that the industry would be due billions of pounds in compensation following implementation of standardised packaging but this Opinion demonstrates these claims are not substantiated.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“The tobacco industry knows it has little or no chance of winning but by threatening legal action it is trying to stop the infection spreading to other countries.

Standardised plain packaging threatens the profitability of the industry and they are desperate to prevent other countries from following the example set by Australia, the UK and Ireland.”


Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see:
ASH receives core funding from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

[1] The Opinion was commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Cancer Research UK from Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of Law at HEC Paris and Global Clinical Professor at NYU School of Law, and Amandine Garde, Professor of Law at Liverpool University.

The full Legal Opinion is available on this webpage:
The authors conclude that: “In this Legal Opinion, we have focused on the compatibility of the UK draft Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations with EU law. We concluded that all the packaging requirements they propose are compatible with both the EU TPD [2] and, more generally, EU law.” They also state that: “Our analysis suggests that the UK Department of Health enjoys a broad margin of discretion to introduce a standardisation scheme of tobacco products… The evidence supporting standardised packaging keeps accumulating. The Chantler Review [3] adds to the calls for standardised packaging … The UK’s proposed regulations and its Impact Assessment draw on this evidence and present it is as clearly as possible [given] the conditions the TPD and the EU Treaties lay down to determine the validity of a national scheme standardising tobacco products.”

Contact: Deborah Arnott 020 7404 0242 (w) or 07976 935 987 (m)