Norway: Prohibition on the visible display of tobacco products at the points of sale

The Norwegian display ban on tobacco products came into effect on 1 January 2010, through an amendment of the 1973 Act relating to the Prevention of the Harmful Effects of Tobacco (the Tobacco Control Act)..

The Act prohibits the visible display of tobacco products, smoking accessories and also cards that allow customers to obtain tobacco products or smoking accessories from vending machines at the points of sale, including in duty-free areas.

The practical consequence of the ban is that retail outlets have had to remove or cover tobacco products to render them invisible to customers. This can be done by placing the tobacco products in closed containers above or under the counter, in closed cabinets or drawers or behind sliding doors, shutters etc. Many also use vending machines – these are allowed as long as they are not self-serviced, but operated by cards purchased at the cash register or checkout after a control of the buyer’s age and payment.

Philip Morris Norway challenged the ban, but in September 2012, the Oslo District Court ruled that the display ban does not constitute a barrier to trade according to article 11 of the EEA agreement. The Court also concluded that even if the ban had been prohibited by article 11, it still would have been allowed under article 13 of the EEA agreement for reasons justified on grounds of the protection of public health. Philip Morris decided not to appeal this judgment.

More information: Karl-Olaf Wathne, Ministry of Health and Care Services, Norway (Karl-Olaf.Wathne@hod.dep.no) and Rita Lindbak, Norwegian Directorate of Health (Rita.Lindbak@helsedir.no)

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