Four of the world’s largest tobacco companies will on Thursday mount a court challenge over UK government plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.
British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International are working together to fight the ban on branded cigarette packs, which is due to come into force next year.
They will tell the High Court that the ban infringes property rights and will be ineffective in reducing smoking levels.
Imperial, which sells the most cigarettes in the UK, said legal action was a “last resort” but tobacco companies “have been left with no option than to defend our intellectual property rights in court”.
MPs voted in March to ban logos from cigarette packs after a review last year concluded it was “highly likely that standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking and implausible that it would increase the consumption of tobacco”.
However, in the past the UK government has been criticised for its close relations to the industry after it emerged that 38 MPs received £60,000 in gifts from tobacco companies since packet changes were suggested in 2010.
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