Tobacco firms lose legal challenge over plain packaging

Tobacco firms have lost their legal challenge over the lawfulness of the government's new plain packaging rules.

From tomorrow, cigarette packets will no longer be able to feature any logos or branding.

Brand names must be in small, non-distinctive lettering and any part of the packaging not covered by a health warning must be dark brown or green.

And picture health warnings must cover 65% of the front and back of every packet, with additional warnings on top.

Mandatory packaging on cigarettes in Australia. Credit: Reuters

Under the rules, menthol cigarettes and "lipstick-style" packs aimed at women are also banned.

Promotional statements such as "this product is free of additives" or "is less harmful than other brands" will be barred.

And 10-packs of cigarettes will no longer be sold in the government's bid to deter smoking.

Studies show plain packaging acts as a smoking deterrent. Credit: Reuters

In 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to pass compulsory laws for all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging.

Since then, studies suggest plain packaging is working to reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products and is acting as a deterrent.

The legal action was taken by Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.

They argued the new regulations violated a number of UK and EU law and would destroy their valuable property rights by rendering products indistinguishable from each other.

But Mr Justice Green dismissed all their grounds of challenge saying: "The regulations were lawful when they were promulgated by Parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence."

Japan Tobacco International said they planned to appeal against the High Court ruling.

UK Managing Director Daniel Sciamma said: "The fact remains that our branding has been eradicated and we maintain that this is unlawful.”