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Swedish Match Ltd. v. The Ministry of Health and Care Services [Norway] [February 19, 2018]

Swedish Match Ltd. filed a petition to appeal the 2017 Oslo County Court decision upholding Norway's plain packaging laws, specifically challenging 'snus' (oral tobacco). The Oslo County Court had dismissed the application ruling that plain packaging is both suitable, appropriate and necessary and that it does not involve any arbitrary discrimination or hidden trade restriction. The Borgarting Court of Appeal upheld the Oslo Country Court's decision and dismissed the appeal on February 19, 2018.

Swedish Match Ltd. v. The Ministry of Health and Care Services et al. [Norway] [November 06, 2017]

Swedish Match Ltd. ("Swedish Match") sought an injunction in the Oslo County Court to suspend Norway's plain packaging laws for 'snus' (oral tobacco) while it brought a full challenge to the law. The Norwegian law requires plain packaging for cigarettes, hand-rolled tobacco and snus. Swedish Match is the main producer of snus in Europe and Scandinavia. The key legal basis for the claim is that the law violates the EEA Agreement (the trade agreement with the European Union) because it is an unjustified restriction on the trade in goods. Swedish Match argued that snus is the least harmful smoke-free tobacco product on the market and that the government had not considered how important snus is as a harm-reduction product. They claimed it was wrong to treat cigarettes and snus equally in their packaging requirements and that there was no evidence that plain packaging would work to reduce tobacco use.

The Oslo County Court dismissed the application ruling that plain packaging is both suitable, appropriate and necessary and that it does not involve any arbitrary discrimination or hidden trade restriction. Swedish Match was ordered to pay all the government's legal costs.

Philip Morris Norway v. Health and Care Services of Norway [Norway] [September 14, 2012]

Philip Morris Norway challenged Norway's ban on the display of tobacco products at retail establishments.  A European court, ruling on European law, determined that the domestic Norwegian court must decide whether "the measure is necessary to achieve the stated goal, and that goal cannot be reached using less extensive prohibitions or restrictions or prohibitions or restrictions that affect trade within [Europe] less."  The Norway court determined that the display ban is necessary and that no alternative, less intrusive measure could produce a similar result.  The court upheld the ban and ordered Philip Morris to pay legal fees.  

Philip Morris Norway AS v. The Norwegian State [Norway] [September 12, 2011]

An importer of tobacco products sued Norway before the Oslo District Court, alleging that the Norwegian ban on tobacco advertising, which included a prohibition on visual product displays in retail locations, was incompatible with the European Economic Area Agreement (EEA). Accordingly, quantitative restrictions on imports and measures having the same effect are prohibited unless they are justified by non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory public health grounds. Prior to issuing an opinion in the case, the district court requested two preliminary rulings from the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States (EFTA) Court (presented in this decision.)  The EFTA Court determined that if the ban did not affect the tobacco products manufactured in Norway as much as it affected the tobacco products imported from other EEA States, the ban would be incompatible with the EEA. Further, the EFTA Court declared that the district court would have to decide whether Norway’s ban was necessary -- that Norway’s legitimate health objective of reducing tobacco use could not be achieved by measures less restrictive than a tobacco product display ban.