France orders plain packaging for cigarettes; Japan Tobacco to appeal


France published a decree on Tuesday that requires cigarette manufacturers to introduce plain packaging by the end of the year.

Japan Tobacco International immediately said it would challenge the measure.

The publication of the decree was the culmination of government efforts launched in 2014 to require tobacco firms to sell cigarettes in packages decorated with neither logos nor distinctive coloring.

But Japan Tobacco International’s French subsidiary quickly announced it would challenge the decree before the Council of State.

“The introduction of plain packages doesn’t take into account the damage it does to the property rights of companies, in particular intellectual property rights,” JTI France’s Corporate Relations and Communications Director Benoit Bas said in a statement.

That is the argument tobacco companies have used against the introduction of plain packaging in Australia.

In 2012, Australia became the first country to mandate plain packaging for cigarettes in a bid to reduce smoking rates, and is being followed by Ireland and Britain as well as France.

The British ban on logos and branding on cigarette packets goes into force in May, but tobacco firms have filed a legal challenge.

The appeal by JTI before the Council of State, the nation’s supreme court for administrative justice, will not suspend the introduction of plain packages.

Tobacco firms lost their legal cases in Australia and failed to have the matter accepted for international arbitration.

They also failed to overturn an EU law allowing member states to impose plain packaging.