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Norway court upholds tobacco display ban

A Norwegian court on Friday upheld a the country's display ban [text, in Norwegian] on tobacco products. The law prevents stores from displaying tobacco products or their logos anywhere in a store, requiring the products to be stored in cabinets or otherwise hidden from sight. Philip Morris [corporate website] brought suit against Norway in March 2010, arguing that the law is in violation of the European Economic Area (EEA) [official website] rules because it makes competition too difficult. An Oslo district court began hearing the case [JURIST report] in June. The district court, per a request by Philip Morris, asked for an advisory opinion by the court for the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) [official website] before the case went to trial. The EFTA court in turn responded that the display ban could be seen as violating EEA rules by interfering with the free flow of goods while on the other hand, the underlying policy of the ban was in compliance with EEA rules. Philip Morris has one month to appeal the district court's ruling.

Tobacco products have been subject to stricter regulations around the world, resulting in increased litigation over the legality of such measures. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in August that tobacco companies do not need to print graphic warnings [JURIST report] of the dangers of smoking on cigarette packages. In a 2-1 decision, the DC Circuit struck down a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation that requires tobacco companies to display graphic images such as a man smoking a cigarette through a hole in his throat. Earlier that month the High Court of Australia [official website] upheld a law that bans brand logos on tobacco products [JURIST report] and requires cigarette packages to display graphic warning images. In July the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit struck down [JURIST report] a New York City Department of Health regulation requiring stores to display graphic anti-tobacco ads where tobacco products are sold.

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