Imperial fights ban on vending machines

IMPERIAL Tobacco said it would seek a judicial review of plans to ban cigarette vending machines yesterday, upping the ante in the battle between the industry and the government.

The maker of Lambert & Butlers believes the crackdown, due to come into effect in October 2011 under the Health Act 2009, is disproportionate because booths account for less than one per cent of cigarette sales. Former Labour minister Ian McCartney put forward the proposal to stop children gaining easy access to cigarettes.

Imperial chief executive Gareth Davis said in a statement: “We do not want children to smoke and supported the government’s proposal to stop underage access through the introduction of electronic ID cards, token mechanisms and remote control technology… It is a matter of great regret that the UK government ultimately chose to disregard all of these options in favour of a ban that will result in significant job losses.”

The action is being brought by Imperial’s vending machine subsidiary Sinclair Collis.

Precedent is not on Imperial’s side, however. In 2004 the company lost a legal challenge against plans to ban point-of-sale advertising.

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