Country: Italy

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National Council of Consumers and Users (Associazione dei Consumatori) v. two electronic cigarette manufacturers [names redacted] [Italy] [November 15, 2019]

The National Council of Consumers and Users, headquartered in Rome, petitioned a civil division at the Court of Rome on September 13, 2019 against two e-cigarette defendants to have their marketing removed on the internet (including via defendants’ own social media accounts), printed publications, and through organizing or sponsoring public events aimed at promoting e-cigarettes.

The Court found in favor of plaintiffs holding that “[i]n view of the "restrictive approach to the advertising of electronic cigarettes and liquid refill containers" aimed at achieving "a high level of protection of human health", clearly stated in Paragraph 43 of Directive 2014/40/EU, the defense argument shall be dismissed..

The Court ordered:

  1. Defendants’ remove all commercial communications related to electronic cigarettes and refill cartridges deemed unlawful (including content from their websites and social media pages and all unlawful content reposted by Defendants) within 15 days from the date of this judgment;
  2. Defendants will be fined € 500.00 for each violation and for each day of delay in the execution of this order; and
  3. Defendants are jointly liable to the reimbursement of all legal costs related to these proceedings in favor of plaintiffs and to a compensation of €6,000.00 in addition to administrative costs, VAT and CPA.

IQOS hidden self-advertising decision [Italy] [December 19, 2018]

Philip Morris International’s Italian affiliate company Philip Morris Italia S.r.l (PMI) was found guilty of a breach of the Consumer Code as a result of 'hidden advertising.' There were a number of magazine articles that appeared in various publications in Italy, which on their face were about other subjects (e.g., how to freshen up a used car, how to cook at the right temperature), but also used part of the article to extol the virtues of IQOS. The Italian Competition Authority held that this was a violation of non-transparent advertising and was in breach of the Consumer Code. PMI was fined 500,000 Euros (the maximum), and the publisher was fined 50,000 Euros.

President of the Council of Ministers v. Autonomous Province of Bolzano [Italy] [February 16, 2006]

The President of the Council of Ministers challenged a provincial law enacted to protect the health of non-smokers, claiming that the regional law conflicted with national regulations on exposure to tobacco smoke, thus violating Articles 32 and 117 of the Constitution.  The petitioner argued that the regional law diverged from the national regulations in that it altered the definition of those spaces to which the smoking ban applied, raised the amount of fines assessable upon violations of the ban, and instituted a fine for those who would sell or provide tobacco to persons under sixteen years of age, among other things.  The court held that the constitutional challenge was well founded, finding that the law exceeded the scope of regional powers because it consisted of rules designed to replace regulations promulgated at the national level to safeguard fundamental principles.

Tonutto et al v. ETI Spa. [Italy] [April 11, 2005]

Information about this decision coming soon. 

Region of Tuscany v. President of the Council of Ministers [Italy] [December 19, 2003]

The Region of Tuscany challenged the constitutionality of a national law that increased the administrative fines assessed to violators of regulations prohibiting smoking. Tuscany claiming that the nature of the legislation, namely health protection, needed concurrent national and regional powers under the Constitution. Tuscany argued that it is the national government's role to address fundamental principles, while all other aspects of the issue, including administrative fees, are reserved for the regional governments.  The Court held that the constitutional question was unfounded, finding that the underlying regulations amended by the challenged law sought uniformity of national health protection, a fundamental principle entrusted to protection by the Republic under the Constitution's provision enshrining the right to health.  Because the propriety of legislating uniform health protections was indisputable, the propriety of assigning punishment for violations of such health protections was also indisputable.

Employee, et al. v. Bank San Paolo di Torino [Italy] [December 20, 1996]

The trial court of Turin petitioned the Constitutional Court to declare certain tobacco control laws unconstitutional.  The trial court observed that the federal government's failure to ban smoking in enclosed workplaces undermined the level of health protection guaranteed by the Constitution's right to health and the principle of reasonableness.  The Court held that the constitutional question was unfounded, finding that the lack of a complete ban on smoking did not violate the Constitution.  The Court noted that, under existing regulations, employers were required to take adequate steps to reduce the risk from secondhand smoking in the workplace to a level so low as to prevent jeopardizing the health of workers.

Ministero delle Finanze, et al. v. Philip Morris Belgium SA, et al. [Italy] [June 22, 1993]

Tobacco companies claimed that Italy's legislation requiring 1) two specific warnings for display on cigarette packs and 2) the health warning for unit packets of tobacco products other than cigarette packets to cover at least 4% of the surface on which it is printed, violated EU directives. The Court held that, under the respective directives, Member States were not authorized to require more than one warning, but could require that non-cigarette tobacco products contain a health warning covering at least 4% of the surface.

De Russis Vito Nicola, et al. v. U.S.L. RM/4, et al. [Italy] [May 07, 1991]

During an action seeking damages for harm caused by passive smoking in a hospital, post office, and restaurant, the Magistrate of Rome petitioned the Constitutional Court to determine whether a tobacco control law and the opinion of the Council of State violated the Constitution insofar as the law or opinion clarifying the law:  1) prohibited smoking within wards of hospitals but failed to address smoking elsewhere within hospitals; 2) prohibited smoking in educational facilities and places frequented by transport services but allowed smoking in public postal service facilities; 3) failed to ban smoking in restaurants; and 4) limited the applicability of the law to cases in which several people meet in a public place for a fixed time and a permitted purpose.  The Court held that the constitutional question was inadmissible, finding that the question was irrelevant to the underlying civil suit because the plaintiffs' claim for damages could be derived only from the Constitution's provision protecting the right to health in conjunction with the obligation to pay for damages under the Civil Code.  The Court also found the constitutional question to be irrelevant because, were the court to grant the petitioner's request, the defendants still could not be held liable for failing to perform a legal duty that did not exist or was not knowable at the time of the alleged infraction.