Norwegian legislation that demanded that tobacco and snus products must have neutral packaging from the 1st of July this year must now be tried in court.
On Monday, Swedish ‘snus’ (mouth tobacco pouches) manufacturer Swedish Match, and representatives from Norwegian authorities will meet in court after the Swedish company sued the State to avoid the introduction of standardised packaging.
The law was introduced this year, but tobacco manufacturers have a one-year deadline (until July the 1st, 2018) to introduce neutral packaging on all tobacco and snus products.
The case has been set for five days at Oslo’s ‘Byfogdembete’ (Financial Court), to hear the Swedish tobacco producers’ demand for a temporary stoppage of the ban on snus products.
Breaking EEA rules
The company believes the government’s injunction is an illegal trade restriction contrary to the EEA Agreement, and therefore believes that the introduction of the legislative amendment must be postponed pending the outcome of the actual trial in the district court, an issue that hasn’t yet been scheduled.
‘Such an intervention regulation as introducing standardised packaging doesn’t stand in proportion to any health risks associated with snus’, said the spokesperson for Swedish Match, Patrik Hildingsson, earlier this summer, to VG newspaper.
Health Minister, Bent Høie of Høyre (H), said in connection to the fact that parliament had adopted his proposal this summer, that he wasn’t surprised at litigation by the tobacco industry (from whom the government have always, and do today, gain a fortune in tax revenues).
‘They’ve also done that in Australia, France, and the UK, and lost everywhere,’ he told VG newspaper.
The Secretary General of the Cancer Society, Anne Lise Ryel, is also not surprised by the tobacco industry going to court.
‘It’s a familiar tactical game to stop a political decision that ensures fewer youngsters start using snus,’ she said in a press release.
The Cancer Society is supplying the State help in the case.
Ryel believes that if the tobacco industry is not allowed to play on young people’s feelings, far less will start using tobacco. She showed that the experience from other countries that have prohibited manufacturers from using packaging that play on images, proves that neutral packaging works.
Smoking among young people has fallen evenly over the past decade, while the use of snus has increased. A third of young men, and just under a quarter of young woman use snus. Every year, more than 10,000 young people in Norway start using snus, but the figures for how this has affected a decrease in smoking cigarettes haven’t been produced as yet in the argument.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today