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Tobacco Giant Drops Appeal

Philip Morris, the major tobacco producer, has decided not to pursue its legal challenge of a Norwegian law that forbids retailers from displaying tobacco products. The company’s Norwegian unit, Philip Morris Norge, had claimed the law hindered trade of legal products and failed to document the health benefits justifying such a hindrance.

Philip Morris Norge suffered what some local legal experts called a “crushing defeat,” however, when the Oslo City Court (Oslo Tingrett) upheld the state law. The court ruled that the ban on exposure of tobacco products (now kept out of site for consumers who must ask for them) did not hinder trade and would be legitimate even if it did.

A spokesman for Philip Morris Norge refused to say why the company had decided not to appeal the city court ruling, calling its analysis of the ruling “internal information.”

A state prosecutor told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that the state was “very well satisfied” with the outcome of the court case. He thinks the ruling can have consequences outside Norway’s borders as well, since it was the first test in the European economic area of the legality of such a ban on tobacco display, and other countries have evaluated imposing similar bans.

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