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UvA/ACELG European Law students supported Dutch public interest litigation lawyer Phon van den Biesen with legal advice in support of a court case regarding the legality of toxicity tests of 'rigged' cigarettes. The students were involved in the case as part of their work with the UvA's European Law Clinic. The case was initiated by the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation (SRPJ), the municipality of Amsterdam and a number of health organizations.

Photo by Arun Anoop on Unsplash (edited)

In a ruling on 7 February 2020, the District Court in Rotterdam expressed serious doubts regarding the adequacy of the current method for measuring toxic cigarette emissions while smoking (the so-called ISO method). Although the ISO method is currently prescribed by law, result using this methods seem to be in conflict with other health regulations. The court ruled that the EU’s and the Dutch government’s obligation to protect public health has been seriously undermined. The court has requested a ruling from the European Court of Justice.

The legal action was brought to court by the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation (SRPJ), the municipality of Amsterdam and a number of health organizations. They are seeking a ban on the sale of ‘rigged’ cigarettes.

Five European Law students of the University of Amsterdam produced an extensive legal memorandum for Phon van den Biesen, the Dutch lawyer who represented the case on behalf of Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation. The UvA student team consisted of Eógan Hickey, Fenna Koop, Quinty de Nobel, Xenia Wegewitz and one other student.

In this memorandum students performed legal background research on the key procedural and material EU legal questions at issue in the case. They helped Phon van den Biesen prepare for the case and helped him convince the District Court of Rotterdam to refer the case to the European Court of Justice to get a ruling on the validity of the tobacco products directive. In support of the  case, the UvA students conducted research on three key legal aspects in the case:

  • the validity of EU directives under international law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • the legality of legal norms that are not published
  • the obligations of national courts to refer questions to the ECJ


More information also in Dutch newspaper Trouw: "Sjoemelsigaret voorgelegd aan EU-hof om eerlijker meetmethode af te dwingen."


The (edited) photo was taken by  Arun Anoop and is available on Unsplash.