Morris to challenge Irish tobacco display ban

DUBLIN, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Philip Morris PM.N, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is mounting a legal challenge to Ireland's ban on advertising or displaying tobacco products in shops, the company said on Monday.

Philip Morris said it would file a joint lawsuit on Tuesday with an Irish retailer seeking to overturn the display ban.

“We support strict tobacco regulation but this legislation just serves to hand the tobacco business over to smugglers and counterfeiters,” said Anne Edwards, a spokeswoman for Philip Morris.

“Ireland already has one of the worst illegal cigarette problems in the EU and this ban is making it worse.”

Ireland was one of the first nations to ban smoking in the workplace in 2004 and groups of people puffing cigarettes outside pubs and restaurants are a familiar sight across the country.

The country’s rules on shop advertising, introduced in June, follow similar measures in Iceland and parts of Canada. (Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Greg Mahlich)