The International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IILA) on this day, 31st May, 2016, joined the rest of the world in celebrating the annual World No Tobacco Day 2016. The theme this year focuses on “plain (standardized) packaging” of tobacco products, which was first introduced by Australia in 2012 and as is being implemented in the UK, Ireland and France, with other countries, including Kenya, moving in the same direction.
WHO’s slogan for this year’s World No Tobacco Day is “Get ready for plain packaging”
What is Plain packaging?
The Guidelines for Implementation of Article 11 (Packaging and labelling of tobacco products) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) define plain packaging as “measures to restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in a standard colour and font style (plain packaging)”.
The Guidelines for Implementation of Article 13 (Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) describe plain packaging in the following terms:
- black and white or two other contrasting colours, as prescribed by national authorities;
- nothing other than a brand name, a product name and/or manufacturer’s name, contact details and the quantity of product in the packaging, without any logos or other features apart from health warnings, tax stamps and other government-mandated information or markings;
- prescribed font style and size; and
- standardized shape, size and materials:
- There should be no advertising or promotion inside or attached to the package or on individual cigarettes or other tobacco products.
So why plain packaging?
Plain packaging is an evidence based measure that can save lives and protect public health by:
- reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products;
- restricting use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion;
- limiting misleading packaging and labelling; and
- increasing the effectiveness of health warnings.