Tobacco giants have lost a legal battle against the government's new plain-packaging rules.
British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) appealed against the High Court's decision in May to enforce standardised plain packaging laws on cigarette boxes.
Daniel Sciamma, UK managing director of JTI said the company disagrees with the court's decision and is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.
We have repeatedly argued that plain packaging is unlawful and will not achieve the claimed effect of reducing smoking. It is not working in Australia: the decline in smoking rates hasn’t accelerated since plain packaging was introduced nearly four years ago and the black market has grown.
This commercial vandalism sets a dangerous precedent for other targeted industries, who must be concerned that their brands will now be under threat.
New rules for 2017 ban tobacco companies from branding their cigarettes and require 65 per cent coverage by health warnings on the front and back of each box. Packs of 10 cigarettes will no longer be sold because they cannot accommodate the size of the required health warning, and menthol cigarettes are set to be banned from 2020.
An Imperial Brands spokesperson said, "We note today's judgement from the court of appeal. We will take our time to review the judgement before considering our legal position."
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of the health charity Action on Smoking Health said the decision was a victory for public health and a "crushing defeat" for the tobacco industry.
This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardised packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.
AHS said the referendum to leave the European Union will not change the ruling as the plain packaging law is UK legislation.
The tobacco companies have until 9 December to make any application to appeal, and the sales of plain packs is set to be compulsory from 20 May 2017.