The Philip Morris company suffered a loss in Norwegian court Friday when the court upheld a ban that prevents the display of tobacco products in stores. Since 1975, Norway has had a ban on alcohol and cigarette advertising. In 2010, the country decided to ban the display of the products even at the point of sale. Cigarettes have to be held in unmarked cabinets or special vending machines that do not let you see the product logos. Customers have to ask for cigarettes in Norway stores.
The Norwegian state was sued by Philip Morris in a lawsuit that claimed the ban violated the free flow of goods and also violates international agreements. The court that ruled was the Oslo district court. It said that “the display ban is necessary and that there aren’t other, less invasive methods which could give similar results.” Philip Morris has one month to determine if it will appeal the ruling at a higher court level.
“We are disappointed with the court’s decision and are considering our options for appeal,” said Nordan Helland, a spokesman for Philip Morris Norway.
Lawsuits have also been filed by Philip Morris International in Uruguay and Ireland. The lawsuit in Uruguay was about health warnings and marketing restrictions. The lawsuit in Ireland was about a ban on tobacco products being sold in shops. Those lawsuits are still active.
“This verdict sends a signal that it’s possible to win over the mighty tobacco industry,” said Karl Erik Lund, research director at the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research.