The European Court of Justice has ruled that European Union member states may ban the sale of unwrapped chewing gum from automatic vending machines on health grounds, if they so choose.

Backing a national ban in Austria, the court rejected a claim from Salzburg chewing gum seller Georg Schwarz that the ban breaks EU freedom of trade treaty commitments.

Although judges accepted that chewing gum exporters selling to Austria incurred extra costs through having to package their confectionary, they said the ban was “justified, because it constitutes and adequate and proportionate measure for the protection of public health”.