The CJEU states the mandatory nature of ISO standards in filter cigarettes’ case

In February 2022, the Court Justice of the European Union has published a judgment regarding a case of filter cigarettes. The dispute is related to the use of filter cigarettes for sale in the Netherlands, which complied with the maximum emission levels for tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide prescribed by Directive 2014/40.

Measurement standards to calculate emission from cigarettes

Due to the nature of the topic, this case was submitted to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling, especially focusing on the validity of Article 4(1) of Directive 2014/40, which states the following:

“The tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide emissions from cigarettes shall be measured on the basis of ISO standard 4387 for tar, ISO standard 10315 for nicotine, and ISO standard 8454 for carbon monoxide.”

“The accuracy of the tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide measurements shall be determined in accordance with ISO standard 8243. (EUR-Lex, 2014)”

The applicant claimed that the standards mentioned above do not suggest any measurement methods to calculate the maximum levels of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. In addition, they do not indicate any methods manufacturers can follow to detect maximum levels of emissions.

The decision of the Court: the importance of publication in the EU Official Journal

The Court concludes that provision of the Directive 2014/40 refers in mandatory terms to those ISO standards and does not mention any other measurement method. Moreover, the Court states that the reference to the ISO standards is clear and precise to parties to distinguish its content. Moreover, the Court also mentions that these standards are binding on manufacturers, as the Directive has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Thus, the industry has access to the official version of the standards referred to in Article 4(1) through the national standards bodies. At the same time, the method is not binding on the public, as the standards have not been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Additionally, the Court points out that the involvement of a tobacco industry at ISO in the development of standards does not in itself invalidate these standards. The aim of Article 5(3) of the FCTC is not to fully prohibit the involvement of the tobacco industry, but to prevent the influence of the industry on the development of tobacco control policies. Furthermore, the Court also specifies the characteristics of the methods for measuring cigarettes’ emissions, indicating that it is within the role of the Member States’ authorities to monitor the accuracy of the measurements.

What is the Court of Justice of the European Union?

The CJEU is the judicial branch of the European Union. It is the only institution with the power of interpreting the European Union law in cooperation with the national judiciary of the Member States. Moreover, the CJEU also deals with legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions and is allowed to take action on behalf of individuals, companies, or organizations against EU institutions.

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Pablo De Mingo Monge

Expert Consultant, Publications department



CJEU. (22 February 2022). Press Release No 29/22. Filter cigarettes: the method which has been established by ISO for determining the maximum emission levels for tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide and to which EU law refers is valid and binding on cigarette manufacturers. Retrieved on 18/03/2022 from

EUR-Lex. (3 April 2014). Directive 2014/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products and repealing Directive 2001/37/EC. Retrieved on 18/03/2022 from content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02014L0040-20150106

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