The UK government is facing legal action from two of the world's biggest tobacco companies over its new “plain packaging” law.
British American Tobacco and Philip Morris have filed law suits with the High Court, claiming the regulation breaches EU and English property trademark laws.
Marc Firestone, senior vice president of Philip Morris, said in a statement:
We respect the government’s authority to regulate in the public interest, but wiping out trademarks simply goes too far.Countries around the world have shown that effective tobacco control can co-exist with respect for consumer freedoms and private property.
The law, which requires all cigarette packages sold in the UK to be unbranded, was approved by the government in March and will be fully introduced in 2017.
Brands will no longer be instantly recognisable to purchasers, and the hope is that it will discourage young people from picking up the habit and therefore bring down smoking rates.
The firms have left it to the court to decide on the level of compensation, but it is thought it could reach £11m – enough to eliminate the extra £8m the Conservatives promised to put into the NHS in their pre-election campaign.