LONDON, ENGLAND - Britainï¿½ï¿½s three largest cigarette makers, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and British American Tobacco, are challenging an impending U.K. ban on the display of tobacco products, Reuters reports.
The big three announced yesterday that they are seeking judicial review of sections of the Health Act 2009, in which the U.K. government introduced a display ban to discourage smoking.
Imperial said that there is no evidence to suggest that children start smoking because of the display of tobacco products.
"If this misguided legislation is implemented it will simply fuel the growth in the illicit trade of tobacco and create a huge cost burden for retailers who are already under considerable pressure as a result of the difficult economic climate," said Imperial CEO Gareth Davis.
JTI called the regulations "unreasonable and disproportionate" and as such, said that it has effectively been forced to begin challenging the ban in court.
BAT argued that the ban would damage competition and the livelihoods of thousands of small businesses while encouraging illicit tobacco trade.
The Health Act 2009 requires all tobacco products to be obscured from view in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland shops beginning in October 2011 in large retailers and from October 2013 in smaller stores. Scotland is pursuing its own regulation through its parliament.