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SFP Press release: SFP welcomes European Court of Justice ruling upholding the Tobacco Products Directive

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Brussels - The Smoke Free Partnership calls on EU Member States to implement the provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

The European Court of Justice today (link) ruled that all provisions of the TPD, adopted in 2014, are valid. It rejected a challenge brought by the tobacco industry[1] against the validity of the directive or various provisions of it; a challenge brought by Poland[2] against the ban on characterizing flavours in particular menthol; and it rejected a challenge brought by totally Wicked[3], an e-cigarette maker, against the provisions on electronic cigarettes.  

SFP Director Florence Berteletti said: “The Court decision is excellent news for public health. The TPD has the potential to save millions of lives in the future by preventing smoking among children and young people. With the legal uncertainties out of the way, it is now high time for European countries to step up the implementation of this crucial act as of its entry into force in just over two weeks’ time. Ahead of this year’s World No Tobacco Day on plain packaging, we also welcome that the Directive permits the implementation of stronger measures such as standardised packaging at national level, an option that three Member States will implement shortly and a few others are pondering at present.

The Tobacco Products Directive was adopted in 2014 following intense and controversial negotiations. It will enter into force on 20 May 2016. As of then, Member States will be required to implement large graphic warnings covering 65% of the front and the back of packs of cigarettes and roll-your own products; to implement minimum sizes of health warnings and to ban certain types of packs such as slim packs; to ban characterizing flavours in these products (a temporary derogation for menthol is foreseen until 2020).

In addition, Member States can apply more stringent measures in accordance with Article 24 TPD, notably standardised packaging. So far, three Member States (Ireland, the UK and France) have adopted standardised packaging, to be implemented as of May 2016. Other countries in the EU are also considering this measure.

The TPD provisions were ground-breaking in several ways. This Directive applies to the world’s largest economic block, made of 500 million consumers, and will be a model for many countries. The graphic warnings are among the largest in the world. The EU was among the first legislatures in the world to apply the ban on characterising flavours, a measure likely to open the way for other countries. Recently, Canada followed suit, by announcing a plan to ban characterising flavours in tobacco products in the near future.

As of 26 April 2016, eight Member States had notified the transposition of the TPD, according to European Commission statements made to the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and food Safety; several others were reportedly in various legislative stages. The SFP calls on EU Member States to transpose the TPD within the shortest delays possible.

Contact: Anca Toma Friedlaender, SFP Senior Policy Advisor |  Phone: +32(0)2 430 73 58 | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[1] C-547/14, Philip Morris Brands SARL, Philip Morris Limited, British American Tobacco UK v Secretary of State for Health, Reference for a preliminary ruling from the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court) (England and Wales) (United Kingdom) made on 1 December 2014

[2] C-358/14, Republic of Poland v European Parliament and Council of the European Union, Action brought on 22 July 2014

[3] C-477/14, Pillbox 38 (UK) Limited, trading as ‘Totally Wicked’ v Secretary of State for Health, Reference for a preliminary ruling from High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court) (England and Wales) (United Kingdom) made on 27 October 2014

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The Smoke Free Partnership receives project funding from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.
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