Tobacco giant Phillip Morris has declared that it is prepared to sue the U.K. government over a packaging law that would mean only plain packets would be legal for cigarettes. The government is considering implementation of the plain packaging law in the hope that it will act as a better way to warn consumers of the dangers of smoking.
Should the law go through, cigarette boxes and packs would not be allowed to have any form of branding on them. Instead, graphic health warnings would be placed in order to communicate the dangers of smoking to those that still do so.
Phillip Morris makes the Marlboro brand of cigarette, and the brand has spent years on marketing strategy to gain the hold that is currently has in the tobacco industry. The cigarette giant has made it clear that it is prepared to sue the U.K. government should this packet law go through.
The Australian government implemented plain packaging laws in a similar attempt to improve public health, Phillip Morris are currently suing them. In a statement the company announced that it is prepared to “protect its rights” and in doing so will go to court to seek what it considers to be a fair value of its property.
After a review earlier this year found that the number of children who start smoking could be reduced if smoking packets were not branded, the U.K. government announced that it wanted to step towards plain packets for cigarettes. It is believed that doing so would lower the incidence of new smokers in the country. The first drafting of the potential plain packaging rules were published in June this year. After the drafting, a six-week consultation period commenced. That period concluded last week.
Phillip Morris submitted a statement to the Department of Health saying that the company would be seeking compensation of “billions of pounds. “It is thought that the appropriate compensation for tobacco branding should be in the region of 11 billion pounds, according to the 2014 Exane BNP Paribas report.
According to Phillip Morris, plain or standardized packaging is a way of disgusting what the company considers to be a government mandated destruction of property. The company has argued that plain packaging rules are unlawful and run in opposition to the most basic requirement of what lawmaking should be. Phillip Morris went on to term the proposed standard as “disproportionate”.
Australia is having problems after implementing the packaging law. The complaints are that the laws have created what should be considered as illegal obstacles to companies trying to do business. It was thought that the tobacco giant used the Australian case as an example to other countries that might also try to implement packaging laws.
An estimated 200,000 children in the U.K. begin smoking every year. The government had hoped that the packet law would be already in place before the next general election. Fears over legal challenges have already delayed the progress, and now that tobacco giant Phillip Morris has said that it is prepared to sue should the law be put into action, further delays are expected.
By Tabitha Farrar
The Global Mail
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