Rhodri Thompson QC, Professor Takis Tridimas and Anita Davies today obtained permission for their clients, Swedish Match, to challenge a ban imposed on ‘snus’, an oral tobacco product, under an EU directive. Given that snus is the only type of tobacco product subject to such a ban, Swedish Match argues that the ban is a discriminatory and disproportionate restriction on free trade. Swedish Match relies on extensive scientific evidence to show that snus is significantly less harmful to public health than cigarettes and other types of tobacco product that can still be sold lawfully in the EU.
The CJEU has exclusive jurisdiction over the validity of EU legislation so the UK proceedings have been stayed pending a preliminary ruling from the CJEU. Given that the Government has published a bill to confer power on the Prime Minister to give notice of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU, this is likely to be one of the last such orders made by the UK Courts.