Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, hailed today’s decision from the EU Court of Justice upholding the validity of the latest tobacco legislation agreed between the EU Parliament and the Member State Governments in 2014.
Speaking after the Luxembourg court decision today, Ms. Childers, a member of Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee, which was responsible for the legislation, said:
“It was with great relief that I and my colleagues learned of the court ruling, which validated our work to improve tobacco control in the public interest.
“Big tobacco was obviously not content with all the money and effort they put into lobbying to weaken the draft legislation as we were working on it.
“No sooner was it passed than they threw down the legal gauntlet to try and finish the job in court.
“For all its shortcomings, some of which bear the smoke-stained fingerprints of big tobacco’s lobbyists, the Tobacco Products Directive the ECJ just upheld does establish a much stricter regime to govern the sole legal, lethal product when used according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
“British American Tobacco and Philip Morris were obviously fuming over the standard requirement to cover 65% of the cigarette packages in health warnings, and have also challenged the Irish and the UK governments for going even beyond and mandating full packaging.
“Today’s quashing of their challenge is great news for public health in Europe and for those pioneering governments in particular.
“I hope their model will be emulated further on the Continent in the near future, as the Directive only sets a minimum standard that can be improved on by national governments.
“We must remain vigilant, as there are no holds barred for their well-oiled legal apparatus, including spurious copyright infringement claims through obscure investment protection clauses in international treaties.
“This has been a major concern for those of us who want no such sort of clauses in the EU-US trade deal known as TTIP.
“On the topic of big tobacco’s obscure legal manoeuvring, it is disgraceful that the EU Commission maintained contacts with big tobacco on the renewal of an out-of-court settlement deal on fake and smuggled cigarette trading while we were facing this challenge from the industry itself.
“I hope that option goes the way this quashed challenge did today: up in smoke.”