The banning of hundreds of SKUs of cigars and cigarillos in France appears to be averted.
Per a press release from Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), the French Ministry of Health and Ministry of Budget have issued statements annulling certain parts of a February announcement that would have banned a variety of tobacco products because of their names.
At the time, the French government announced that various names were considered violations in marketing because of their promotion of positive things like elegance, the good life or masculinity. The government published a list of products that would be banned, which led to some head-scratching as in most cases, only one or two vitolas form lines were banned, while others were allowed to remain on the market.
This was all brought about as part of France’s implantation of TPD2, the new European Union tobacco laws, which went into effect last year. TPD2 requires certainly baseline standards, but allowed each member country to impose additional requirements, such as the ban on certain names.
Now, that appears to be irrelevant. In May, Le Conseil d’Etat, France’s top legal body, indicated it would ask the European Union Court of Justice about whether the banning of names was consistent with property rights, freedom of expression, freedom to conduct a business and principles of proportionality and legal certainty.
As such, that part of the law was annulled, while the Conseil d’Etat while the European court ruled on the manner, something that will likely take over one year.
The original law would have given manufacturers between one and two years to remove their products from the French market. For STG, this was particularly problematic as French sales of Café Crème, a line of cigarillos, accounted for over 4 percent of STG’s overall sales, over $20 million.
Café Crème was included in the hundreds of products that were to be banned.