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News Round Up

Tobacco companies lose EU court appeal

Tobacco firms have lost a legal challenge against EU rules that force them to put graphic images on cigarette packages warning people of the dangers of smoking. 

Europe's highest court rejected the challenge brought by Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco, setting a precedent that could see other governments launch a crackdown on the habit that kills six million people a year.

"The court finds that, in providing that each unit packet and the outside packaging must carry health warnings... the EU legislature did not go beyond the limits of what is appropriate and necessary," the court said in its decision.

Philip Morris and BAT had both argued the measures deprived them of property in the form of trademarks and was a violation of European intellectual property law.

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Germany to legalise cannabis

Germany is to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes early next year, the health minister said on Tuesday.

"Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way," said Hermann Groehe, who will present draft legislation to the German cabinet on Wednesday.

The draft bill comes as many parts of the world are relaxing laws on cannabis use and medicinal marijuana is gaining popularity to ease suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, Hepatitis C, Parkinson's disease and other serious conditions.

However, the issue of recreational and medical cannabis use is controversial in many countries, as opponents fear crime connected to drug abuse and addiction. Some argue pot use could lead to dependence on harder drugs.

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WhatsApp banned in Brazil

WhatsApp has been banned in Brazil, leaving about 100-million people unable to access it. But the same thing could happen to many millions more.

The block was put in place by a regional judge, who had the power to make the service available for all 100 million users across the country. It will come back online after 72 hours.

It’s still not clear why the ban came into effect, because the ongoing case that it is related to is being heard in secret.

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