Philip Morris Norway AS Announces Lawsuit Challenging Norwegian Tobacco Product Display Ban
March 9, 2010
OSLO – March 09, 2010 – Philip Morris Norway AS (PMN) will today start legal proceedings to overturn the ban on displaying tobacco products in retail stores.
“Display bans have had no impact on reducing smoking in the countries that have implemented them, a fact acknowledged by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services. Instead these regulations prevent adult consumers from seeing the available product range and overly restrict competition” said Anne Edwards, spokesperson for PMN. “We have raised these issues with the government to no avail, which has regrettably left us with no choice but to litigate.”
The goal of the lawsuit is to overturn the display ban to permit retailers to display tobacco products in their stores enabling adult smokers to see the products on offer. PMN is not seeking any other changes to tobacco-related laws in Norway.
“We fully support tobacco product regulation and effective measures to prevent minors from smoking. However, we believe that the government should focus on proven measures such as strict enforcement of the minimum age law and education campaigns,” said Anne Edwards.
The lawsuit will be filed at the Oslo District Court. It challenges the tobacco product display ban on the grounds that it constitutes a violation of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement. As part of the filing, PMN is seeking referral of the case to the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) Court in Luxembourg.
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Philip Morris Norway AS (PMN)
Philip Morris Norway AS (PMN) is the Norwegian affiliate of Philip Morris International Inc. Based in Oslo; the company employs 20 people and sells tobacco products including Marlboro. PMN has consistently supported tobacco regulations in Norway and repeatedly called for stricter enforcement of the minimum age law, in place since 1995, to prevent minors from accessing tobacco products. PMN also did not oppose measures such as the public smoking ban or the up-coming requirement for tobacco product packaging to carry graphic health warnings.
Philip Morris International
Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) is the leading international tobacco company. In 2009, the company held an estimated 15.4% share of the total international cigarette market outside of the U.S. For more information, see www.pmintl.com .
Display bans prevent retailers from displaying the tobacco products they sell in their stores. Norway, Iceland, Ireland, all Canadian provinces and the Australian State of New South Wales, have implemented a display ban.
Display ban in Norway
The ban on the display of tobacco products in sales outlets came into force on January 1, 2010. The ban also applies to smoking articles such as pipes, cigarette paper, ashtrays and cigarette cases.
Experience from Iceland
Iceland was the first country to introduce a display ban. As part of the legislative preparations for the display ban in Norway, the Ministry of Health and Care Services noted that: “Iceland prohibited public display of tobacco products in 2001. The percentage of smokers in the Icelandic population (at 15 years of age and above) has sunk from 25% in 2001 to 20% in 2005. However, there are no indications to prove that this reduction is a result of the ban, more than other tobacco preventive measures introduced at the same time." (Hearing Notice from the Health and Care Service Department, March 2007)
A study by LECG, a leading finance and economic consultancy, also shows that the point of sale display ban in Iceland has had no statistically significant effect on reducing smoking prevalence.
Philip Morris International has launched a website, www.productdisplayban.com in order to provide factual information on the prohibition of the display of tobacco products at point of sale and describe its effects on public health, adult smokers, retailers, tobacco manufacturers and enforcement agencies.
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