Tobacco companies challenge government over plain packaging law

Four of the largest tobacco firms, including Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco have kicked off a legal challenge over the government's decision to introduce a plain packaging law.

Under the regulations tobacco companies would be forced to use a "dull brown" colour on the outside of the packaging and white inside should the law come in to effect as planned next May.

However the companies, which also includes Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International yesterday (10 December) kicked off a six-day legal battle to put forward the argument that removing branding is an infringement of their intellectual property.

On the British American website the company says that plain packaging is a policy with "potentially significant adverse consequences, not all of which are well understood".

Plain packaging was introduced in Australia in 2012 and the UK government said it would wait until the impact of the decision could be measured before doing the same. However British American argues that hasn't happened: "Despite conceding in its own final impact assessment that the evidence from Australia still cannot be relied upon, the UK government has chosen to adopt plain packaging.

"By introducing plain packaging, we and others believe that governments risk breaching trademark rights and international trade agreements."

The proposed law also would ensure bigger health warning pictures and a ban on flavourings.

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