Ireland - Philip Morris and retailer to file lawsuit to challenge tobacco display ban..

October 5, 2009 - Philip Morris Limited (PML), Philip Morris Products S.A. (PMPSA) and Maurice Timony, an independent retailer from Donegal, have announced that they will file a joint lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban on display of tobacco products at retail stores in Ireland.

On July 1, 2009 anti-smoker legislation implemented was introduced on the advertising and display of tobacco products in retail shops. At the same time, under new provisions of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002 and 2004, tobacco retailers will have to sign up to a retail register and tighter controls will be imposed on the location and operation of tobacco vending machines. (Ireland - Office of Tobacco Control 2008 annual report - Positive..)

Ireland - tobacco vendors must register by October 1, 2009..
The lawsuit will be filed before the High Court in Dublin on October 6, 2009.
Plaintiffs will be challenging the tobacco display ban on the grounds that it
severely restricts their ability to provide trade and services thus violating
Irish constitutional law and EU law. The tobacco display ban came into effect in
Ireland on July 1, 2009. Outside Ireland, a display ban exists in Iceland as
well as some provinces of Canada.

"We know from our experience in Iceland that a total ban on tobacco display does
not work, is costly to implement and ineffective at reducing smoking levels,"
said Anne Edwards, spokesperson for PML. "We support strict tobacco regulation,
but this legislation just serves to hand the tobacco business over to smugglers
and counterfeiters. Ireland already has one of the worst illegal cigarette
problems in the EU, and this ban is making it worse. No one likes to litigate,
but we have unfortunately arrived at a point where we see no alternative. By
taking this action, we ask the Irish government, `what type of industry do you
want?` One that is legitimate, and supports effective regulation, or one that is
run by criminal gangs selling cheap, illegal cigarettes on street corners?`"

Commenting on his decision to challenge the ban, Mr. Maurice Timony, (Timony News is a retail outlet and licensed tobacconist in Donegal, Ireland owned by Maurice Timony) said, "I am a licensed retailer who pays a license fee to the government to sell tobacco products. Currently, the country is swamped in legislation that is making life very difficult for compliant retailers like me. The ban on display of cigarettes is just one example of a piece of over regulation that has not been well thought through and has negatively affected my business. As a compliant, law-abiding retailer I have a responsibility to my employees to make sure that I can continue to employ them going forward. Simply put, `enough is enough.` The display ban threatens my business and I have therefore decided to take a stand against it."

The plaintiffs are not seeking changes to the law prohibiting smoking in public
places or that prohibit tobacco advertising. The goal of the lawsuit is to allow
licensed tobacconists and retailers to display tobacco products in their stores.

Today, Philip Morris International (PMI) is launching a website, in order to provide factual information on the prohibition of the display of tobacco products at point of sale and describe its effects on public health, adult smokers, retailers, tobacco manufacturers and enforcement agencies.

Display ban in Ireland: The ban on the display of tobacco products at the point of sale entered into force on July 1, 2009. The ban means that no tobacco products can be displayed in shops and therefore cannot be seen by customers.

Illicit trade in Ireland: A 2008 survey commissioned by Philip Morris showed that 29.3% of cigarettes found in Ireland were non-domestic, the highest level in the EU.

Experience from Canada: In 2008 it is estimated about 13 billion illegal cigarettes were sold in Canada causing a loss to governments of over $2 billion in tax revenues. As in other countries illegal cigarettes do not comply with local legislation and are sold cheaply to adults and children alike. Illegal tobacco sales support organized crime networks and their presence in the market causes legitimate retailers to lose business. Source: A national study for the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers` Council conducted by GfK.

Experience from Iceland: A study conducted at the request of Philip Morris International by LECG, a leading finance and economic consultancy, shows that the point of sale display ban in Iceland has had no statistically significant effect on reducing smoking prevalence.

Reference: Philip Morris Limited and Independent Retailer Announce Joint Lawsuit Challenging Irish Tobacco Display Ban, Reuters, 10/5/2009.

Some Ireland related news briefs:
Ireland - Prof Clancy not enough spent on prevention..;
Ireland - tobacco vendors must register by October 1, 2009..;
Children - exposed to cigarette smoke in cars have greater chance of respiratory distress..;
Ireland - tobacco companies not helping small retailers - display ban..;
Tobacco control initiatives starting Wednesday, July 1, 2009..;
Ireland - Office of Tobacco Control 2008 annual report - Positive..;
Ireland - modest penalty for cigarette smuggling..;
Ireland - to amend tobacco legislation to to include pictoral warnings..;
Ireland - as of July 1, 2009 no advertising or display of tobacco products will be permitted in retail outlets..;
Ireland - cigarette tax abandoned over smuggling fears..;
Ireland - may raise tax on cigarettes as part of emergency budget..;
Ireland - ban smoking in cars when kids are present..;
Ireland - further provisions of the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002 and 2004 are to be commenced on 1 July 2009.;
Ireland - 80% of smokers want a ban on tobacco advertising in shops to stop youngsters starting the habit..;
Ireland to ban tobacco displays..;
Ireland - reduction in admissions for acute coronary syndrome...