The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Tobacco control ‘hot spots': plain packs

Global map of plain packaging, 2015Suddenly it seems that we’re hearing monthly about a country that intends to go down the route of mandating plain packaging of tobacco products.

Australia led the way in 2012, lawmakers in Ireland and the UK followed in March and earlier this month the French National Assembly adopted the packs, which are free of colours and all other branding, except for the manufacturers’ name written in a uniform plain style.

Australia’s announcement provoked swift reaction from the tobacco industry. Ultimately, it lost a lawsuit in the country’s highest court but the industry's challenge of this public health measure using an international trade agreement is pending.

Big Tobacco has already announced challenges to the Irish and UK law and we can expect the same in France.

Fund to defend public health

In March, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new fund that will be available for low and middle income countries whose tobacco control measures are similarly attacked by the tobacco industry.

So which country will be next with plain packaging? Possibly Norway, which launched public consultations on the measure in February, 2015. Or New Zealand, whose legislation has already been approved by the legislature’s Health Committee.

Singapore has announced it will hold public consultations at the end of 2015, Sweden and Finland have also taken steps to adopt plain packaging, and the European Union’s new Tobacco Products Directive gives the 28 EU states the option to implement the measure.

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