German company Planta Tabak had applied for an exemption from the 2014 EU directive on flavored tobacco products. But the EU's top court has ruled against the Berlin-based company and others making similar products.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled on Wednesday that the 2014 ban on the sale of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco containing flavorings was valid.
The EU had given member states two years to implement the rule, and it took effect in Germany in 2016.
Planta Tabak, a Berlin-based tobacco business founded in 1956, challenged both the EU law of 2014 and the 2016 ECJ ruling that upheld it. The company claimed the rules did not apply to its flavored products, most of which were made of mentholated roll-your-own tobacco.
In the initial ECJ ruling, manufacturers of flavored tobacco with a market share of 3 percent or more were given until 2020, so they would have time to sell off their stock.
In Wednesday's ruling, the ECJ upheld the staged ban to allow consumers time to switch to other products.
Hiding the smell of tobacco
The ECJ said flavored tobacco products were "particularly attractive to young people and facilitate the initiation of tobacco consumption."
While the court admitted the ban was a restriction on the EU's free movement of goods, "it was justified by the balancing of its economic consequences against the requirement to ensure a high level of protection of human health."
The court also upheld a ban on any indication of flavor on the product labels.
Last year, one of the court's advocate generals, Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe, said indicating any flavor could "minimize the harmful effects" of tobacco products on human health and "thereby encourage its use."
The ECJ is the supreme court of the European Union on questions related to EU law. Advocate generals assist ECJ judges by giving them impartial legal opinions.
The case now reverts to Berlin's administrative court, where Planta Tabak filed its first challenge.
jm/amp (dpa, epd)