Scotland politics

Appeal judges reject Imperial Tobacco's cigarette display bid

cigarette display
Image caption The Scottish government had put on hold its display ban until after the court case

Appeal judges have rejected a bid by a major tobacco firm to challenge Scottish government plans to ban the open display of cigarettes.

They turned down the challenge by Imperial Tobacco which claimed the measures were beyond the legislative competence of Holyrood.

Lord President, Lord Hamilton, sitting with Lord Reed and Lord Brodie, ruled on the matter.

The government measure had been delayed pending the court case outcome.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said he was "delighted" with the ruling, adding that the display ban would help, "prevent the children of today becoming tomorrow's smokers."

Imperial Tobacco's challenge against the legislation was originally rejected by Lord Bracadale in 2010.

This latest ruling said that the measures in the Tobacco and Primary Medial Services (Scotland) Act 2010 were not outside the scope of the Scottish Parliament's powers.

The SNP government wants to ban the open display of cigarettes and prohibit the use of vending machines for the sale of tobacco.

In the appeal judge ruling, Lord Hamilton said of cigarette displays: "Such display is conceived to encourage the purchase of such products. As the consumption, particularly by smoking, of such products is believed to be adverse to health, the section is designed to inhibit, without prohibiting, their purchase."

'Ready access'

He said the vending machine ban was concerned with a different but linked problem - "the ready access by children and young persons to tobacco products by way of automatic vending machines".

Lord Hamilton explained: "Such ready access is conceived to be harmful, as if facilitates the acquisition and ultimate smoking, by children and young persons, of tobacco products.

"The section is designed, again by a criminal sanction, to prevent children and young people, as well as other persons, from having such ready access to tobacco products.

"The risk which the smoking of tobacco products is perceived to present is to health, primarily of the smokers as consumers but also of those non-smokers who may be exposed to a smoke-filled environment and by 'passive smoking' suffer adverse affection."

Lord Hamilton said it was not without significance that the UK parliament had already made equivalent measures for England and Wales.

He said the 2010 act, if valid, would restore rather than adversely hit a common market.

Scottish Labour's health spokesman Dr Richard Simpson said the SNP government needed to ensure that the display ban was implemented as soon as "practicably possible".

He added: "While legislation must be legally watertight, the fact that the UK parliament has already made equivalent measures for England and Wales suggests that Imperial Tobacco's challenge was more of a delaying tactic."

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