Plain packaging legislation will come into effect for UK tobacco manufacturers from tomorrow, the UK’s High Court has ruled.

The decision, made this afternoon, marks the end of a lengthy legal challenge by the UK’s big tobacco manufacturers.

From Friday (20 May) all cigarettes manufactured for sale in the UK must comply with plain packaging regulations.

JTI slammed the decision and vowed to launch an appeal, arguing that plain packaging would not have the claimed effect on smoking rates. JTI managing director Daniel Sciamma said this had now been proven in Australia where smoking rates had not been positively impacted by plain packaging, while the black market had grown.

“In addition this decision sets a dangerous precedent for intellectual property rights and investment. Other consumer goods industries must now worry that their branding is under threat from political opportunism, rather than examining the evidence,” he added.

“We will continue to challenge the legality of plain packaging. The fact remains that our branding has been eradicated and we maintain that this is unlawful.”

Retailers will have a further year, until 20 May 2017, to sell through their old branded packs.

The plain packaging legislation will come into force on the same day as a number of other new laws contained in the European Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD).

The directive will also ban the manufacture of small cigarette and rolling tobacco packs from 20 May.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has produced comprehensive new guidance for retailers on the changes.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The combination of the introduction of standardised packaging and the EUTPD legislation has the potential to cause significant disruption to retailers. Our guidance sets out best practice for retailers at every step of the process, and will help to ensure that they stay within the law.”

The guidance sets out the action that retailers need to take at every stage of the introduction of the regulations and includes details of changes to the law on the sale of tobacco packs, roll-your-own tobacco, e-cigarettes, flavoured tobacco and ‘track and trace’ security features on tobacco products.

Download the guidance from the ACS website