TOBACCO giants have lost their High Court challenge over the Government’s new plain packaging rules — the day before the law comes into force.
From tomorrow cigarettes will be sold in standardised green packaging bearing graphic warnings of the dangers of smoking from Friday under new rules designed to prevent young people taking up the habit.
All packs must contain a minimum of 20 cigarettes to make sure the packs are big enough for health warnings to cover 65 per cent of the front and back, with the brand name restricted to a standard size, font and colour.
Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International had challenged the legality of the new "standardised packaging" regulationsin a judicial review action.
But Mr Justice Green dismissed all their grounds of challenge.
In his 386-page ruling, Mr Justice Green said: "The regulations were lawful when they were promulgated by Parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence."
Japan Tobacco International (JTI) announced that it intends to appeal against the decision.
Daniel Sciamma, UK managing director of JTI, said: "We will continue to challenge the legality of plain packaging. The fact remains that our branding has been eradicated and we maintain that this is unlawful."
Simon Clark, director of smokers' group Forest, said: "The judgment is very disappointing. Plain packaging treats adults like children and teenagers like idiots.
"Everyone knows the health risks of smoking and very few people start because of the packaging.
"Plain packaging has nothing to do with health. It's gesture politics designed to appease public health campaigners who are forever searching for new ways to force smokers to quit.
"Plain packaging is a declaration of war on consumers because the aim is to denormalise not just the product but also millions of adults who enjoy smoking and don't want to quit.
"If you don't smoke but enjoy alcohol, sugary drinks and convenience food you should be concerned by this judgment because the health police are coming for you too."
Earlier this month, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled the Tobacco Products Directive, which was adopted in 2014 but has been held up by the challenges, is lawful.
As well as plain packaging, menthol cigarettes and "lipstick-style" packs aimed at women will be banned.
Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) chief executive Deborah Arnott said: "This landmark judgment is a crushing defeat for the tobacco industry and fully justifies the Government's determination to go ahead with the introduction of standardised packaging.
"Millions of pounds have been spent on some of the country's most expensive lawyers in the hope of blocking the policy.
"This disgraceful effort to privilege tobacco business interests over public health has rightly failed utterly."