High level meeting expressing support for plain packaging

Ministers and other high level representatives of health ministries from Australia, France, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay met in Paris on July 20 to express their aspiration for tobacco free societies and promote effective tobacco control measures, specifically the standardized or plain packaging of tobacco products. The Head of Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva actively participated in the meeting by moderating the discussion on plain packaging.

In line with their obligations under Articles 11 and 13 of the WHO FCTC and the recommendations contained in the related implementation guidelines, Parties should consider adopting plain packaging requirements to increase noticeability and effectiveness of health warnings and to eliminate the effects of advertising or promotion on packaging. Scientific evidence is available to show that the design features on tobacco packages make products more attractive, promote the product, cultivate brand identity and influence the decision to start smoking, especially among young people and women.

Currently there are only three countries that have introduced plain packaging around the world: Ireland and the UK which recently approved relevant legislation, and Australia, which claims that the law introduced more than two years ago, has been a great success.

Participants reaffirmed their desire to join forces to defend tobacco control policies and laws from the vested interests to the tobacco industry. Governments around the world are encouraged to maximize transparency in their relations with the tobacco industry, in line with the obligations of the WHO FCTC Article 5.3.

Ministers and the other high level officials participating in the meeting expressed their support to the Convention Secretariat and their commitment to continue working closely together to promote plain packaging of tobacco products. Towards this end, participants agreed to consider joint initiatives in the support of plain packaging in view of the next World Health Assembly in 2016.