Philip Morris International, the world’s largest tobacco firm, is reportedly ready to sue the British government over plain cigarette packaging.
The UK government has conducted a consultation with its Department of Health on potential legislation which would force cigarette makers to sell their products in plain packages with graphic health warnings and no branding.
Britain believes the measure could reduce the incidence of children taking up smoking, but Philip Morris has reportedly described the move as, “unlawful, disproportionate, and at odds with the most basic requirements of the rule of law”.
The UK government published draft regulations in June, and then launched a six-week consultation.
In its response as part of that consultation process, Philip Morris is reported to have said: “‘Standardised packaging’ is a euphemism for government-mandated destruction of property,” according to Reuters which has seen a copy of the submission.
If it happens, Britain would be only the second country after Australia to ban cigarette branding.
Australia is already facing challenges at the World Trade Organisation over complaints the laws create illegal obstacles to commerce.