Global Conference Emphasises on Plain Cigarette Packaging

Recently ministers from ten countries met in Paris to commence a common drive to introduce plain cigarette packaging.

Cigarettes

The main objective of this change is to end the high smoking rates among young people.

A joint statement was issued by representatives of the nations which included Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and South Africa. The statement emphasised how there is significant scientific proof to justify the health benefits of plain cigarette packaging.

The proof shows that plain packaging on tobacco products is found to be effective in decreasing the appeal of the product to customers, particularly young people, and women. In addition to this, it was noted that plain packaging is found to boost the effectiveness of health warnings that are shown on the packaging.

The conference was hosted by Marisol Touraine, the French Health Minister, and she said that the conference aimed to start the process of moving towards a tobacco-free world. She added that the work done now will benefit the generation who are born now to become a generation without tobacco. While talking on French radio, she told the listeners that smoking claims 78,000 lives every year in France and that by 2030 it is predicted that eight million smokers would die across the world every year if no steps were taken.

According to statistics from WHO, one person dies every six seconds at present due to tobacco, which equates to almost six million people every year.

How Effective Will Plain Cigarette Packaging Be?
Marisol Touraine said that with plain tobacco packaging, she aims to prevent young people from being initiated to smoking and that this plain packaging will have a huge impact.

Many countries have recently passed plain packaging laws, which means that cigarette packaging must have a plain and standardised appearance. These new laws have been met with opposition from some tobacco lobbyists who oppose the legislation.

In 2012, Australia was the first country to implement plain packaging legislation, with France, the UK, and Ireland following. Studies in Australia have shown that the introduction of plain packaging resulted in a drop in the rate of young smokers. However, some tobacco industry leaders attribute high tobacco excise duty to be the reason for the decrease.

France and the UK are set to introduce plain cigarette packaging from 2016. One interesting fact is that France has one of the highest rates of smokers under the age of sixteen in the world. Last year, Touraine announced that France would ban smoking in cars with passengers under the age of twelve and in playgrounds, in addition to the plain packaging legislation of 2016. These announcements caused heavy protests in several regions of France from tobacconists.

Plain Cigarette Packaging – The Rules
Plain packaging on cigarette tobacco products means that every single packet of cigarettes must have standardised packaging with the elimination of logos and branding. Each tobacco company is also expected to introduce plain packaging that includes health warning messages and ensure that these messages are visible to everyone.

Plain packaging implementation will in most cases mean that cigarette packs must include graphic images of the damage caused by smoking which will be aimed at both adult smokers and the young.

The tobacco plain packaging act varies from country to country but regardless of this tobacco companies are being made to introduce standardised packaging to improve public health.

Plain packaging on tobacco products is a relatively new policy measure, but it has been proven to be effective in reducing smoking rates and overall tobacco consumption. The result of the evidence provided from this means more countries are moving towards the plain packaging of tobacco products.

The new tobacco product packaging laws will not initially cover liquid nicotine products, rolling tobacco or pipe tobacco.

Plain Packaging Regulations – Implementing Plain Packaging & Challenges
Plain packs of cigarettes with graphic health warnings are aimed at moving towards a time of having tobacco-free kids, but some oppose plain packaging.

Tobacco companies rely on cigarette branding to maintain the level of custom they receive and there is concern from companies like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International that the lack of branding and logos on cigarette packaging will see a large effect on tobacco sales and profits.

Lobbyists also say that the introduction of any plain packaging law will result in an increase in cigarette prices and encourage cigarette consumption of counterfeit cigarettes or illicit tobacco which could have even more negative effects.

Those against generic packaging on cigarettes also state it should be their decision whether to smoke or not. Lobbyists and the tobacco industry continue to fight changes in legislation with legal challenges raised, but this is very unlikely to stop the introduction of new rules.

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