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Philip Morris Asks U.K. Court to Review EU Tobacco Directive

Philip Morris International Inc., the world’s largest publicly traded cigarette maker, asked a U.K. court to review whether European Union tobacco rules comply with EU law.

Philip Morris filed a case in England, asking U.K. judges to take the matter to the European Court of Justice, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes said in a statement today.

“We believe that the EU’s tobacco products directive disrupts the balance that the EU treaties establish between the Union and the member states,” the New York-based tobacco company said.

The directive came into force May 19 and EU member states have two years to implement the measures into national legislation. They include a pictorial health warning covering 65 percent of the pack, a prohibition on cigarette flavors, and a requirement for cigarette makers to track and trace their shipments to fight contraband tobacco.

Philip Morris said by banning menthol cigarettes, which would take effect in 2020, the directive disrupts the internal market because they are currently legal in all 28 EU member countries. The company said the measures also may ban “truthful and non-misleading claims” on tobacco packaging, and Philip Morris is seeking a review on whether the directive complies with EU treaties in giving the commission certain powers regarding the rules.

The company said it expects the judicial process to take two to three years.

Frederic Vincent, a spokesman for the European Commission, which drafted the law, declined to comment.

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