GLD lawyers win High Court case to standardise tobacco packaging

Government Legal Department

June 13
17:04 2016

Evidence suggests that in the UK around 207,000 children aged between 11 and 15 years old start smoking every year. Smoking is the primary cause of preventable and premature death, accounting each year for over 100,000 deaths in the UK. By requiring packs to be in a drab green colour and removing logos and promotional graphics, standardised packaging will reduce the appeal of cigarettes, deterring young people from taking up smoking and helping existing smokers to quit. Standardised packaging will also make health warnings more noticeable and reduce the likelihood of consumers being misled (e.g. by a misconception that some brands are safer). The Regulations will contribute to the governments objective to reduce smoking as much as possible to protect public health.

The Regulations that now make standardised packaging mandatory were drafted and defended by a team of lawyers from across GLD. This followed two independent and systematic reviews of the evidence and consideration of more than 3,700 detailed submissions as part of two public consultations.

In the High Court case, the tobacco companies argued that the Health Secretary had placed only limited weight on the large amounts of evidence they had gathered. The Judge ruled that the industrys evidence was of low quality and the government was right not to give it greater weight.

The Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison MP, said:

First and foremost, this is a victory for a generation that will grow up smoke-free. Standardised packaging will reduce smoking rates and save lives, which will always be a top priority for this government. We will never allow the tobacco industry to dictate our policies.

The Regulations were upheld against 17 grounds of challenge. The thousand paragraph judgment of the High Court is available online. Four of the five claimants have been granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

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