European Court of Justice rules Tobacco Products Directive is lawful – gives backing to UK’s policy on standardised packaging

Wednesday 04 May 2016

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU Tobacco Products Directive which is due to enter into force on 20th May 2016 is lawful and that the tobacco industry’s challenge which sought to overturn the Directive is without foundation. The court also clarified that Member States may go further than requirements set out in the Directive with regard to packaging, enabling countries to bring in standardised packaging. Currently the UK, France and Ireland have passed legislation on standardised packaging but this judgment will support other Member States to proceed with the measure.

In addition, the Court dismissed other legal challenges and ruled that the regulations on e-cigarettes are proportionate and that the ban on menthol flavouring was justified. The ruling follows the legal Opinion issued by Advocate General Kokott in December 2015 which upheld the legal basis of the Directive.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“The European Court of Justice decision is welcome if not surprising: the Directive is lawful and the UK is allowed to go further than the Directive in standardising tobacco packs with respect to matters not harmonised by the Directive. We await the UK court judgement, which is expected shortly, but we expect that the court will also confirm that the introduction of standardised packaging in the UK is lawful. From 20th May all packs manufactured for sale in the UK will have to be plain, standardised in the same drab green colour with the product name on the pack in a standard font.”


Notes and Links:

[1] Press release of the European Court of Justice, 4 May 2016

Full text of the judgments for each case: (Philip Morris & BAT) (Poland, menthol case) (Pillbox – e-cigarettes)