COPENHAGEN, Denmark – According to French media, the French Ministry of Health and Ministry of Budget are expected to announce in the near future that they consider the use of Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s Café Crème brand name for cigars to be a violation of the French Public Health Code.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group has not been informed that the French authorities have taken any such decision.
However, the company is aware that the French Ministry of Health has conducted a review of all tobacco product names in the French market following the French implementation of the EU Tobacco Products Directive.
According to the French code, packaging for tobacco products may not include elements that for instance make reference to taste, smell or aroma or suggest life style benefits. In consultation procedures, the French Ministry of Health has referred to that it considers Café Crème a reference to the taste, smell or aroma of the cigars. Scandinavian Tobacco Group has maintained that this is not the case.
If the brand name is eventually banned in the French market, Scandinavian Tobacco Group intends to appeal to the French courts.
CEO Niels Frederiksen says:
“A ban would be unjustified. The Café Crème brand name is not a reference to the taste or smell of the cigars which don’t taste or smell of coffee.
French cigar smokers won’t quit smoking because we change the brand name Café Crème. If the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Budget issue a ban, they would deprive us of our trademark rights in a global cigar brand for no legitimate reason. Such a ban would go far beyond what is required to protect the public against the risks associated with smoking.
Café Crème cigars have been sold on the French market since the early 1970’s.
We have contingency plans in place and will continue to sell Café Crème cigars in France – if needed with a new name. However, we intend to use the means required to defend our Café Crème brand name”.
Café Crème is the Group’s most widely distributed brand with sales to close to 100 markets. Its most significant markets are France and the United Kingdom. The sales of Café Crème in France represent close to 4% of the Group’s net sales.
If the brand name is banned, tobacco products carrying the brand name Café Crème can still be sold in the French market for the coming 12 months.
France is the only country where Scandinavian Tobacco Group has learned about potential objections to its Café Crème brand name based on the new EU Tobacco Products Directive.