A federal judge in Brooklyn yesterday dismissed an unusual lawsuit by European countries against American tobacco companies that had asserted that the companies used fraud and money laundering to smuggle American cigarettes into their countries.

The filing of the case in federal court more than a year ago drew international attention because of accusations by the European Community that its members lose billions of dollars in tax revenues because American cigarette makers use narcotics traffickers and money launderers to help transport and sell contraband cigarettes.

The companies that were sued, Philip Morris and R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, denied those assertions in the racketeering suit.

In his ruling yesterday, the judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis of United States District Court, did not make any findings on the smuggling contentions. Instead, he dismissed the suits, citing a rule with roots in the 18th century that says courts of one country will not enforce tax claims of another country.

New eu tobacco directive 2013 vs. e-cigarettes

Camel crush cigarettes favored by teen smokers, increasing market share by over 20 percent

The new tobacco directive 2013 2014 seeks to regulate products that look and taste like tobacco with the aim of discouraging young people from taking up smoking in the first place.

But disagreement over e cigarettes threatened to derail the talks between the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, concluded on 16, Monday 2013 evening.

The compromise stipulates that e cigarettes will be considered like regular tobacco products if they contain nicotine in a concentration of 20 mg/ml or less.

In actual fact only Ecigarettes of 20mg/ml and below will be allowed on the market and will be treated like tobacco but with more severe restraints on the ability to speak about them. In actual fact the proposal directly denies the freedom of speech on them in as much as all forms of communication whether public or private, industry led or consumer led will be prohibited by law if it speaks favourably about them.

However, individual member states can regulate e cigarettes as medicines, if they are presented as having curative or preventive properties.

Refillable e cigarettes will not be banned, but member states can ban specific types of cartridges for e cigarettes, if they can justify the ban by safety concerns.

Furthermore, if at least three member states adopt a ban on a specific cartridge, the European Commission will be able to impose an EU wide ban unilaterally, without seeking approval by Parliament or the member states.

The new directive also includes a ban on ‘flavoured’ cigarettes, like those containing menthol, and requests manufacturers to display large health warnings picture and text covering 65% of the front and the back of packages.

The compromise still has to be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament.

Member States shall ensure that

a) commercial communications with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes and refill containers are prohibited in information society services as defined in Article 1(2) of Directive 98/48/EC, in the press and other printed publications, with the exception of publications that are intended exclusively for professionals in the trade of the products and for publications which are printed and published in third countries, where those publications are not principally intended for the European Union market

b) commercial communications with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes and refill containers are prohibited in the radio

c) any form of public or private contribution to radio programmes with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes and refill containers is prohibited

d) any form of public or private contribution to any event, activity or individual with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes and refill containers and involving or taking place in several Member States or otherwise having cross border effects is prohibited

e) audiovisual commercial communications falling under Directive 2010/13/EU are prohibited for electronic cigarettes and refill containers

f) cross border distance sales of electronic cigarettes and refill containers are regulated in accordance with Article 16.


EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said the agreement on e cigarettes will put in place

“clear safety and quality standards for a growing sector of the market”

, and promised the the Commission will

“closely monitor developments and trends in this emerging market”.

Fran oise Grosset te, a French centre right MEP (European People’s Party), said she was “disappointed” by the agreement on e cigarettes.

“I am disappointed because we had a valuable opportunity to align their status and it is clear that the agreement refuses to settle the issue,”

she said in a statement.

“The ball is back in the camp of the Member States who will be able to continue assimilating e cigarettes to a medicine while others will continue to consider them as a tobacco product. It would have been useful to agree to harmonise e cigarettes across the EU with clear rules. Today’s agreement leaves the door open to diverging national legislation and does not provide legal certainty.”

“Replacing traditional cigarettes with electronic cigarettes represents a benefit to health. However, the e cigarette should be better regulated, as demanded by the European Parliament.”


  • March 2014 Final Parliament vote
  • 2014 The EU’s tobacco directive set to come into effect