Tobaccoland in court over anti-smoking shock images on vending machines

Tobaccoland in court over anti-smoking shock images on vending machines

The anti-smoking initiative Pro Rauchfrei is in a court battle with Tobaccoland over a call to add anti-smoking shock images to cigarette vending machines in Germany.

A new design for cigarette vending machines in Germany?

An anti-smoking association in Germany, Pro Rauchfrei, is in the midst of a court battle at the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf, which could result in a change to the design of cigarette vending machines across the country.

Pro Rauchfrei is pushing for Tobaccoland Automatengesellschaft mbH & Co. KG to display so-called shock images on the 85.000 cigarette vending machines it operates in bars, nightclubs, supermarkets and train stations in Germany. 

The association is pushing for cigarette machines to display the same shock photos that are printed on the individual packaging, arguing that potential customers should be able to see the shock images before they decide whether or not to buy a packet of cigarettes, and not only after they drop out of the machine.

Karlsruhe has already ruled on smoking shock photos on automats

The sticking point in the ongoing case has resurfaced many times over the past years. It was in 2017 that Pro Rauchfrei first launched a case against Tobaccoland, arguing that legislation didn’t go far enough to make sure that potential customers saw shock images before deciding whether or not to purchase cigarettes. 

Tobaccoland argued that its machines already adhere to German law, under which it is obliged to have a large “smoking kills” sign or a similar message on the side of its machines. However, in late 2023, Germany’s constitutional court in Karlsruhe ruled in favour of Pro Rauchfrei.

"Despite the Karlsruhe judgement, vending machine operators have not given in, which is why we are now demanding an injunction to achieve the specified implementation," Pro Rauchfrei representative Stephan Weinberger said in Düsseldorf.

“Warnings are important because they discourage potential new smokers and mean that the vending machine doesn’t look attractive,” Weinberger added. A court judgement will follow in the coming weeks.

Thumb image credit: VH-studio /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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