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February 2022

EU Court clarifies that International Treaty does not exclude tobacco industry from dialogue with policy makers

By In the news

Today the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered its judgment (English version here) in Case 160/20 “Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd and Others”. The Court ruled that the 2014 Tobacco Products Directive legally and justifiably used Methods and Norms of the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) to measure emission levels for cigarettes.

The Court made it clear that these ISO Norms and Methods are not disqualified because they were developed with the assistance of the tobacco industry as was argued by tobacco control organisations. According to the Court (§58-61), the International Treaty referred to by the tobacco control organisations (i.e. the WHO FCTC) must be interpreted differently: “It is clear from the very wording of that provision that it does not prohibit all participation of the tobacco industry in the establishment and implementation of rules on tobacco control, but is intended solely to prevent the tobacco control policies of the parties to the convention from being influenced by that industry’s interests”. Continuing, the Court highlighted that the, non-binding, guidelines of the Treaty in question are further evidence of its interpretation as these recommend that contacts with the industry must be transparent and limited, rather than fully absent or prohibited.

ESTA believes that this Ruling by the Court fully supports the European Commission’s general approach to the tobacco industry, allowing meetings in full transparency on tobacco legislation and implementation. However, the European Commission’s DG SANTE to this date systematically refuses meetings, even to solve problems with implementation and enforcement of laws to the detriment of consumers, governments and smaller and mid-sized tobacco companies.