The 2014 Tobacco Directive set European-wide regulations for cigarette legislation. However, certain member states have not been respecting the law’s specific articles. This is the case for Article 13, concerning the “promotional names” of various brands, and article that may soon be applied in force.
The article targets tobacco brands that use suggestive names for their products, which may thus incite the public to smoke. In 2016, a decree ordered that the article be applied to French law. The Federation of Cigar Manufacturers made an appeal that has blocked the law ever since, but the subsequent proceedings at the European Union’s Court of Justice now seem to be coming to an end.
The consequences of the application of this decree would be catastrophic for British American Tobacco in particular. In fact, the law would ban the name “Lucky Strike,” which is considered too positive of a name for a cigarette brand. Indeed, the cigarette manufacturer will have no other choice but to remove or rename one of its most successful products from the French market.
Could this decision lead to a snowball effect?
The European Union’s idea is to ban names that mislead consumers: giving a positive effect to a product that contains carcinogens clearly goes against public interests. For cigarette manufacturers, however, such a restriction would be a first.
The British company is prepared to stop appeals, which would most likely be rejected by Europe’s Court of Justice. The group does not believe that France would risk applying the law to specifically target Lucky Strike, however, but other countries may still benefit from this major EU decision.
For British American Tobacco, this is a serious issue, since none of its competitors’ brands (Marlboro, Camel, Gauloises, etc.) would be affected by these measures. If the law is enforced, however, cigarette manufacturers will no longer be able to name their products with positive-sounding names.