Philip Morris to fight against Irish cigarette display ban

Philip Morris Int. (PMI), the third-largest cigarette company in the world joined hands with Maurice Timony, a proprietor of a cigarette shop based in Donegal, Ireland, and reported to launch a lawsuit, trying to reverse the tobacco displays ban implemented throughout Ireland.

The corresponding suit was brought to the Dublin High Court last week. According to the PMI spokesperson, the plaintiffs will attempt to challenge the latest restriction since it significantly limits the ability to guarantee proper trade quality, thus, violating both national legislation and European Union commercial regulations. The prohibition entered into effect in the middle of this summer. Apart from Ireland, identical ban was adopted in Iceland and in few Canadian provinces.

Phillip Morris Marlboro

PMI spokesperson mentioned that relying on PMI’s practice in Iceland, they could prove that countrywide ban on tobacco displays is costly to enforce and not effective in decreasing the smoking rates.

Philip Morris International executives have expressed support to Ireland’s public smoking ban and other restrictions, but have been confident that the ban on cigarette displays would contribute to unfair competition and further flourishing of black market, which become a major headache for the Ireland as it accounts for the highest rates of bootleg cigarettes across the European Union.

The spokesperson for the Marlboro-maker said the company is not fond of any involvement in legal actions, but they would like the Ireland lawmakers to take responsibility for their decisions which have led to a sharp rise in the sales of bootleg cigarettes at every corner of the country.

Commenting the joint lawsuit with tobacco giant, the proprietor of Timony News store, Mr. Maurice Timony, said that he had been a legal retailer who paid a huge fee for annual license to sell tobacco products and with the new legislation he has only losses. He added that Irish merchandisers are weighed down by the legislation that has hit legal retailers hard.

Mr. Timoney mentioned that he is set to contest the controversial laws as long as it harms his store and threatens his staff with layoff due to dramatic reduction in sales of cigarettes.

The plaintiffs stated that their goal is the annulment or revisal of the law, which would permit licensed retailers to display tobacco products in their stores.

PMI is the leading cigarette company in the world, judging by the sales volumes. The company produces seven of the 15 best-selling cigarette brands in the world, among which are Virginia, Parliament and top-seller Marlboro. The company has a total staff of 80,000 workers and sells its cigarettes in almost 150 countries across the world. Its market share is 15.6 percents in the global tobacco market, apart from the United States.

The ban on displaying tobacco products in stores has become valid on July 1, 2009. According to the anti-smoking advocates it would guard minors from seeing cigarettes.

And finally, a 2008 study showed that almost 30 percent of all cigarettes selling in Ireland were illicit.

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