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Japan Tobacco sues Thailand over proposed larger cigarette warning labels

The company claims the rule violates the Thai constitution’s right to free expression

The biggest listed cigarette maker in Asia, Japan Tobacco Inc., said today that it filed a lawsuit against the government of Thailand on June 19, combatting Thailand’s intention to require larger health warnings on cigarette packaging, Bloomberg reports. Sounds similar to a squabble we’ve been having in the U.S….

In April, the Thai government revealed its plan, which would give 85 percent of cigarette packaging over to graphic health warnings, as opposed to current packages, of which 55 percent is covered by warnings.

Japan Tobacco is arguing that this requirement is unconstitutional and violates the right to free expression granted in the Thai constitution. The company’s Thai unit is targeting the country’s health minister, Pradit Sintavanarong, as well as two other officials.

Thailand is following the lead of its fellow Eastern Hemisphere countries, Australia and New Zealand, with this rule. Australia has already banned tobacco company marks on cigarette packages, and New Zealand is planning to do the same.

According to Bloomberg, Japan Tobacco is not the only cigarette maker feeling litigious. Philip Morris International Inc. has also said it plans to file a suit protesting the rule.


Read more coverage of the tobacco industry on InsideCounsel:

New York proposes age restriction on smoking

Supreme Court may hear free speech challenge to FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco

Michael Bloomberg seeks to ban cigarette displays

Tobacco companies and states reach agreement over payments

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