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Plans by the UK government to introduce its new “plain packaging” law for tobacco products is facing legal action.

Two of the world’s biggest tobacco companies – British American Tobacco and Philip Morris – have filed law suits with the High Court, claiming the regulation breaches EU and English property trademark laws.

The law, which requires all cigarette packages sold in the UK to be unbranded, with the aim of reducing brand loyalty and discouraging young people from taking up smoking,  was approved by the government in March and will be fully introduced in 2017.

Marc Firestone, senior vice president of Philip Morris, said in a statement: “We respect the government’s authority to regulate in the public interest, but wiping out trademarks simply goes too far.

“Countries around the world have shown that effective tobacco control can co-exist with respect for consumer freedoms and private property.”

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