/

JT sues Thailand over pack warnings

Bloomberg

Japan Tobacco Inc. has sued the government of Thailand over a plan to increase the size of health warnings on cigarette packages, claiming the move is unconstitutional.

Thailand announced a plan in April to increase the size of graphic health warnings to 85 percent of the package cover from the current 55 percent.

Japan Tobacco, the biggest listed cigarette manufacturer in Asia, filed a lawsuit in an Administrative Court on June 19 to block the plan, spokesman Hisashi Sekiguchi said Tuesday. The proposal violates Thailand’s constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of expression, it said.

The Bangkok-based court said the Thai unit of JT filed the lawsuit against Pradit Sintavanarong, the country’s health minister, and two other officials.

Tobacco companies are engaged in a global effort fighting government moves to curtail cigarette advertising and curb smoking through graphic health warnings and elimination of branding. Australia has prohibited any tobacco company markings on cigarette packages, with New Zealand planning to do the same.

Philip Morris International Inc.’s Thailand unit said it would file its own suit before July 4.

“The ministry ignored our voice and the voices of thousands of retailers in enacting this rule,” Onanong Pratakphiriya, a spokeswoman for the firm, said.