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Tobacco bonuses for retailers are not advertising, court says –



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Tobacco companies that pay retailers a bonus for meeting sales targets are not in breach of the ban on tobacco advertising, the highest Dutch business court ruled on Tuesday.

Eleven tobacco manufacturers and wholesalers were fined by the product safety board NVWA for handing out bonuses to shopkeepers who sold a pre-agreed quantity of cigarettes or placed their products in a highly visible spot.

The NVWA fined the firms for breaking the ban on advertising tobacco but the companies argued that they were “quite normal business practices”.

The company appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the NVWA had tried to apply the law too widely, saying advertising only exists if its purpose is to encourage consumers to use tobacco.

The fines were handed out in 2020 and 2021 and a lower court earlier ruled them to be justified but too high.

Supermarkets will be banned from selling tobacco from July 1 and some, including Lidl and Albert Heijn’s own stores, have already done so. From 2032, only specialist tobacco shops will be allowed to sell cigarettes and rolling tobacco.

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