A major tobacco company has lost the lawsuit challenging the prohibition of vending machines approved in Scotland.
Sinclair Collis Ltd, which is reported to be the leading vending machine operator in the country, has tried to contest the legislation, approved by the Members of Scotland Parliament, but not yet implemented.
The Court of Session turned down the appeal by the company, which is a sales division of Imperial Tobacco, stating that the law was violating the European Union Convention on Human Rights.
Lord Doherty as well ruled that the legislation is subject to the regulation by the Scottish Parliament.
The Scotland Government supported the legislation, stating the measure is an essential part of the governmental campaign to improve public health.
A spokesperson for the government noted: “We strongly supported the proposals to prohibit tobacco vending machines and are delighted that the Court of Session has decided to turn down the challenge and that we were succeeded in the defending our point of view in the court”.
She added that 15.000 minors and young adults begin smoking every year in Scotland and an adolescent, who begins smoking at this age, is several times more likely to develop cancer than those who begin smoking in mid-20s.
“Reliable evidence demonstrates that majority of adolescents receive cigarettes through vending machines, therefore according to the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Act approved in 2010 sales of cigarettes from vending machines is prohibited.
Imperial Tobacco is trying to challenge the latter Act as well over a ban on the displays on cigarettes in the points of sale.
The Scottish Government declared in January that the implementation of the ban on cigarette displays for “large businesses” is being delayed after October due to the current legal challenge. Small businesses received a delay until 2013.
The vending machine sales ban is scheduled to go be implemented in October.
The Scottish Parliament supported the measures in last January, despite the Conservatives tried to block them.
Simon Evans, communications manager at Imperial Tobacco, admitted that they have been disappointed with the ruling.
“Nevertheless, we have 21 days to decide whether to make an appeal, so we are going to examine the judgment and evaluate our options.”
Sheila Duffy, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health stated that they supported the ruling and pleased that such essential public health legislation would go ahead and the competence of the Scotland Parliament to act is confirmed.
“Tobacco is a highly harmful and addictive product which is fatal to a great part of its long-time consumers.”
ASH executive chairman also said that there is no sense in selling deadly products through vending machines which are generally not supervised carefully and can be reached by adolescents.
Tobacco industry often uses legal disputes seeking to delay efficient public health measure, both in Scotland and in other countries.
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