Sorry, Big Tobacco, Norway Doesn't Like You

This hasn’t been the best year for tobacco companies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced more graphic anti-smoking ads, Australia kicked tobacco company logos off cigarette packs, and now a Norway court has upheld a ban on tobacco store displays.

The Norway ruling is the latest blow to Big Tobacco, which is working hard to maintain its presence around the world as anti-smoking campaigns and legislation try to thwart its efforts.

Norwegians have banned cigarette and alcohol advertising since 1975, the Associated Press reported, and in 2010 the government said no to tobacco store displays. Philip Morris challenged that law with a suit, and with this loss the company now may appeal the decision.

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Reuters reported that the country might follow Australia’s example and not allow tobacco companies to display their logos on cigarette packages.

"I know that this ruling will be read carefully in other European countries," Knut-Inge Klepp, director at the Norwegian Health Directorate, was quoted as saying. "Currently we are waiting for a new strategy from the government on tobacco legislation. We are in dialog with other European countries on the issue.”

Australia’s mandate to replace cigarette package logos with graphic photos of rotted teeth and blinded eyeballs is considered the strictest tobacco labeling law in the world. That, too, was challenged by tobacco companies, which lost the fight.

But elsewhere in the world cigarette companies have a stronger foothold. A recent study in the Lancet on smoking rates around the world found that about 41 percent of men who live in developing countries are smokers. Advertising campaigns in some of these countries tout smoking as glamorous and good for you.

Karl Erik Lund, a research director at the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research told AP, “This verdict sends a signal that it's possible to win over the mighty tobacco industry.”

Do you think countries should pass stricter anti-tobacco laws? Let us know in the comments.

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Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal, and has gotten in a boxing ring. Email Jeannine |