Leading tobacco manufacturers British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris International (PMI) and Japan Tobacco International have teamed up to protest against the UK’s plain packaging regulations for cigarettes.

BAT and PMI filed lawsuits in May, and indicated that plain packaging is in violation of World Trade Organisation’s rules for international trade and will be impacting their trademarks.

Although allowed to use their trademarks in Europe, the firms also say that the UK’s plan to ban branding on cigarette packing is also illegal according to the EU laws.

The potential law is also likely to prevent free movement of goods, the firms claimed.

BAT corporate and regulatory affairs director Jerome Abelman said: "This legislation is a case of the UK Government taking property from a UK business without paying for it. That is illegal under both UK and European law.

"This legislation is a case of the UK Government taking property from a UK business without paying for it."

"Legal action is not something we want to undertake, nor is it something we enter into lightly, but the UK Government has left us with no other choice after running what can only be described as a flawed consultation process.

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"Any business that has property taken away from it by the state would inevitably want to challenge and seek compensation."

Preliminary judgment for the BAT and PMI case will be given out on 23 December, reports Irish Examiner.

In a separate lawsuit filed in May, Japan Tobacco had also protested against the implementation of the new rules in Ireland, claiming that it would affect trade between member states.

The firms will be now combining efforts to voice their opinions against the regulations.

Likely to be put into effect in next May, they argue that the directive has been announced without considering effects of a similar ban in Australia, reports City A.M.

The proposed law aims at standardised packaging, which will include graphic health warnings but ban all forms of branding endeavours on the cigarette packets such as logos and colours.

Image: The UK’s plan to ban branding on cigarette packing is illegal according to EU and WTO’s international trade laws. Photo: courtesy of Mister GC via