London, March 11th, 2015 - Following today’s vote in the House of Commons on Standardised Packaging, James Barge, Director of Corporate Affairs for Philip Morris Limited, commented:
“Today’s decision by the UK Government to arbitrarily ban the use of tobacco-related trademarks is an irrational and unnecessary attack on private property that vilifies products that well informed adults choose to buy. While we respect a government’s authority to regulate in the public interest, we and the public expect them to do so based on evidence, taking account of fundamental values such as private property, equal treatment and consumer choice. Following this decision, we are prepared to protect our rights and to seek fair compensation for the value of our property.
“The UK Government is ignoring serious legal issues under UK, European, and international law. Five countries are challenging the legality of plain packaging at the World Trade Organization, and 11 EU Member States have objected to the UK’s proposal at the European Commission
- recognising their duty under EU treaties to uphold EU law and free competition. At the same time, the EU Court of Justice is considering whether the UK and other Member States have the power to introduce pack standardisation measures beyond those already required by the EU.
“The UK Government is willfully ignoring the evidence from Australia – the only country to have implemented plain packaging – that the policy has not proven to reduce smoking rates and has been followed by record levels of illicit trade since its introduction. Organised crime will welcome the opportunity to seize further profit on the UK’s black market as a result of this policy.
“While advocates of plain packaging may downplay these issues, the UK Government should be fully aware of the potential consequences of ignoring them, and of rushing to preempt the legal process.”