European Court tobacco ruling gives green light to bigger, bleaker warnings and the ban on ‘light’ branding

Tuesday 10 December 2002

ASH news release:  For immediate release:  Tuesday 10th  December 2002 




ECJ tobacco ruling puts health before trade



Reacting to the news that the European Court of Justice has upheld the Advocate General’s Opinion that the EU tobacco product directive is valid, Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:


“This gives the ‘All Clear’ for big, bold, bleak warnings on cigarettes from January next year.  It also signals the end to the misleading branding which was the biggest consumer con trick of all time.  The ‘light’ and ‘mild’ descriptors misled the majority of smokers into thinking that low tar cigarettes were safe when clearly they were not.


BAT was clearly trying to abuse the laws establishing the single market in order to sabotage tobacco legislation that promised to save thousands of lives in Europe but the court had the good sense to put health first and showed the European Community is more than just a no-holds barred free-trade zone.


Coming on the fourth anniversary of the Government’s White Paper on smoking,  and following the tobacco advertising ban, this is great news.  However, it is difficult to celebrate when more than half a million Europeans are killed every year by tobacco.”





Contact:  Clive Bates:  020 7739 5902 (office)  or  077 6879 1237 (mobile)


Notes: Ruling of the European Court of Justice:

  • ECJ Press release
  • Full judgement