Dec 7, 2009
National Cigarette and Health Committee (SSUK) legal advisor Turgut Kazan has announced that tobacco manufacturers PhilSA, Philip MorrisSA and British American Tobacco (BAT) have filed a lawsuit with the Council of State to shrink the mandatory size of new graphic images which will be obligatory to print on cigarette packages starting on Jan. 1, 2010.
The companies complain that the requirement of putting images on the front of cigarette packages in an attempt to reduce tobacco consumption by exposing the adverse consequences of smoking will prevent competition in the sector. The images necessitated by the regulations must cover at least 65 percent of the packages, the companies note, arguing that this will make it virtually impossible to put their brand logos on the packages. The companies also argue that the new obligation infringes on their commercial freedoms as bestowed by international trade rules.
Kazan said the Thorax Association, which includes doctors who specialize in eye diseases within the SSUK, will be involved in the case as an interested party. “The tobacco companies have demanded a stay of execution before. The case is in the Council of State’s docket currently,” Kazan noted. He claimed that the regulations are not in conflict with rules of competition or any relevant international laws, adding that they had full confidence that the Council of State will settle the case accordingly.
SSUK President Elif Dağlı also argued that the graphic images covering 65 percent of the packages does not contradict EU standards, which she claimed allows these images to cover more than 50 percent of cigarette packages. “It would be unacceptable to deprive Turkey of its right to protect its public health while other countries are conducting similar campaigns without any obstacle,” she noted. She said selling tobacco products in embellished, attractive packages is very harmful. Currently, 22 million people in Turkey are smokers, she asserted, adding that $20 billion is spent on tobacco products. “This money is being completely burned away and lost. Not only is our money lost, but people’s health is also seriously harmed,” she said and added that another $30 billion is lost in terms of health expenditures to cure smoking-related diseases. Dağlı also rejected claims from tobacco companies that the images have no deterrent effect on smoking, saying, “All studies have proven that theseimages are very effective indeed and cause a nearly 5 percent decline in cigarette consumption.”
Source: Today’s Zaman (December 7, 2009)