Tobacco groups seek to challenge UK display ban ..

April 29, 2010 - Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) said on Monday, April 26th they are to seek a judicial review of the relevant sections of the Health Act 2009, in which the UK government is looking to impose the display ban to discourage smoking.

Leicestershire Asian Business Association’s (LABA) has also announced that it was launching a judicial review against the government’s legislation.

Part of Health Act pertaining to Strengthening tobacco control: The Bill prohibits the display of tobacco products at the point of sale and creates powers to control the sale of tobacco from vending machines. These provisions will help to reduce the impact of tobacco on health and well-being in future generations by protecting children and young people from the harm caused by smoking.

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The Health Act 2009 requires cigarettes, cigars, pipe and roll-your own tobacco products to be hidden from view in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from October 2011 in large retailers and from October 2013 in smaller outlets. Scotland is pushing its own banning legislation through its own parliament.

Imperial, which makes Lambert & Butler and Richmond cigarettes in the UK, said there is no evidence to suggest children start smoking or that adult smokers continue to smoke as a result of the display of tobacco products.

"If this misguided legislation is implemented it will simply fuel the growth in the illicit trade of tobacco and create a huge cost burden for retailers who are already under considerable pressure as a result of the difficult economic climate," said Imperial's Chief Executive Gareth Davis in a statement.

JTI, which took over Gallaher in 2007 and makes Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut cigarettes in the UK, called the regulations "unreasonable and disproportionate" and said it had no option but to start the legal process to challenge the ban.

BAT, which makes Rothmans and Pall Mall cigarettes, added there was no evidence to show the move will cut smoking rates in the UK, but argued it would damage competition and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of small businesses.

It said driving legal trade from public view will encourage illegal traders.

References: Tobacco groups seek to challenge UK display ban, reported by David Jones; editing by David Holmes, Reuters, 4/26/2010.
United Kingdom