United Kingdom - High Court upheld govt's plan to ban cigarette vending machines starting October 1, 2011..

December 2, 2010 - Government plans to ban cigarette vending machines to help prevent under-age smoking were upheld as lawful by the High Court today, December 1st.

Background: (previous news briefs)
October 8, 2010 - Northern Ireland - July 1, 2011 date of start of cigarette display ban..;
September 30, 2010 - Scotland - Imperial Tobacco loses attempt to overturn ban on cigarette displays and removal of vending machines..;
September 25, 2010 - United Kingdom - Cigarette point-of-sale displays ban must go ahead, say leading doctors..;
August 17, 2010 - England - teenage smoking rates dropped since legal age to buy cigarettes raised to 18..;
July 15, 2010 - UK government could scrap tobacco control plans..;
July 1, 2010 - Scotland - Imperial Tobacco in legal action to stop ban on cigarette displays and vending machine removal..;
April 17, 2010 - Wales set to ban the display of tobacco products..;
February 11, 2010 - UK - Vending Machines..Imperial Tobacco seeks Judicial Review..;
February 2, 2010 - United Kingdom - halve the number of smokers by end of decade..;
January 29, 2010 - Scotland - parliament votes to ban retail cigarette displays and vending machines..;
November 12, 2009 - Across the UK - a ban on cigarette vending machines is set to begin 2011..
October 27, 2009 - United Kingdom - Packaging people - tobacco display ban - Counterfeit cigarettes could thrive..;
October 13, 2010 - United Kingdom - House of Commons - ban cigarette displays a step closer/vending machine ban even closer..;
October 11, 2010 - United Kingdom - 3rd reading of Public Health Bill including ban on tobacco displays..;
October 8, 2010 - United Kingdom - limiting access to cigarette vending machines not possible..;
September 17, 2010 - UK - Richard Branson makes high-profile plea for tobacco control measures to protect children..;
September 17, 2009 - Scotland - tobacco firms claim proposed display ban is unnecessary..;
July 6, 2009 - United Kingdom survey results adults back proposals to protect children from tobacco..;
May 20, 2009 - Scotland - cigarette vending machines removal..;
February 26, 2009 - Scotland to ban cigarette displays and outlaw cigarette vending machines..;
December 11, 2008 - England, Wales to ban tobacco displays in shops..;
December 9, 2010 - UK - Strategies to be implemented to prevent underage tobacco use..;
September 1, 2008 - Northern Ireland - Must Be 18 to Buy Cigarettes..;
August 18, 2010 - Wales - still easy for youngsters to buy cigarettes...
Vending machine operators are considering an appeal, saying the death of their multimillion-pound industry will lead to mass redundancies. Imperial Tobacco plans to appeal against a ruling by the High Court which upheld the Government's plan to ban vending machines in order to stop children buying cigarettes. (Imperial plans to fight cigarette vending ban by John Aston, Independent.co.uk, 12/2/2010)

The National Association of Cigarette Machine Operators (NACHO) argued there was absolutely no need to impose the ban as it had designed and developed a fail-safe radio frequency system which "locked" machines and prevented minors from making a purchase.

But a judge ruled against the operators. Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, said it was well known that Government legislative policy in recent years was to discourage people from smoking tobacco and "to take progressive measures to reduce its harmful and destructive effect". He declared: "In the present case, the ban was appropriate to attain the legislative aim which I have identified, and did not go beyond what was necessary, given the Parliamentary judgment that a scheme for age restriction technology was inadequate."

The judge rejected an application by Sinclair Collis Ltd, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco Ltd, seeking to overturn the proposed ban, due to be introduced on October 1 2011. The application was supported by members of NACHO. Sinclair Collis challenged the legality of provisions of the Health Act 2009 and the Protection from Tobacco (Sales from Vending Machines) Regulations 2010. Dinah Rose QC, for the company, argued both the Act and the regulations contravened EU (European Union) law.

The judge said it was obvious that measures aimed at reducing smoking were likely to damage businesses or individuals who made money out of the manufacture or sale of cigarettes. The proposed ban would adversely affect about 50,000 vending machines in the UK and some 550 people directly employed in the industry, with several hundred more employed by suppliers. Sinclair Lewis owned about 20,000 machines, with the rest owned by independent operators.

The judge said cigarettes from machines cost substantially more than those sold in shops or supermarkets, and a vending machine in a pub could provide the publican with an annual royalty of £300-£700. The machines also provided a secure point of sale in hotels, bars, nightclubs and bingo halls. Estimated turnover of the industry in 2004 was £434 million, although there was clear evidence that it had declined significantly since then, said the judge. NACHO had estimated that the annual gross margin of the industry was approximately £102 million.

But the judge ruled the general interest in domestic and EU law in the protection of human health meant the ban was "neither manifestly unreasonable or inappropriate".

Reference: High Court upholds bid to ban cigarette machines, Independent.co.uk, 12/1/2010.