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EU top court upholds cigarette packaging rules

[JURIST] The EU Court of Justice [official website] on Wednesday upheld [judgment] EU rules that will require health warnings to cover 65 percent of a cigarette pack. The rules, approved [JURIST report] by the EU Parliament in 2014, also ban the advertising of e-cigarettes. Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco had challenged the rules, arguing that the EU was overstepping its authority. The court's ruling is final and cannot be appealed. The new rules are set to take effect later this month.

The EU is not the first to face the issue of graphic warning labels for cigarette packagining. In 2014 the Supreme Administrative Court of Thailand approved a new regulation requiring packs of cigarettes sold in the Southeast Asian country to be 85 percent covered with graphic health warnings [JURIST report]. In 2012 the High Court of Australia upheld [JURIST report] a law that requires cigarette packages to display graphic images warning of the dangers of smoking and bans brand logos. In the US, there has also been debate over the constitutionality of graphic cigarette warning labels. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] graphic warnings in August 2012, holding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] rule on graphic cigarette label warnings exceeded the agency's statutory authority and undermined tobacco companies' economic autonomy. However, in March 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] upheld the constitutionality [opinion, PDF] of graphic cigarette warning labels, ruling that portions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) [HR 1256 text] are a valid restriction of commercial speech and also upheld the FDA's regulations requiring more prominent graphic health warning labels on packaging struck down in an earlier ruling.

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