France Spearheads Push For Plain Packaging Of Tobacco Products 23/07/2015 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The country that made smoking cool is now taking steps to make it uncool. France this week organised what it defined as “the first international ministerial meeting” on plain packaging for tobacco products, gathering countries that support the public health measure aimed at discouraging tobacco use. Ten countries attended the 20 July meeting held in Paris, which was supported by the World Health Organization. The meeting marks the beginning of an international movement in favour of plain packaging, the French Minister of Health said in remarks [pdf in French] to a press briefing. The issue is sensitive, but is moving ahead. Australia, which was the first country in the world to pass legislation instituting tobacco plain packaging, is the subject of a dispute at the World Trade Organization brought by five countries, alleging a breach of intellectual property rules (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 25 February 2015). This week’s meeting was attended by France, Australia, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, Sweden, South Africa, and Uruguay, according to the French Ministry of Health press release [pdf in French]. The event was organised in the context of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, celebrating its 10 year anniversary in 2015. In her speech, Marisol Touraine, French Minister of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights, said the tobacco industry is attracting young people with fancy, even glamorous, packaging, she said. The standardisation of cigarette packaging can “break” the appeal of tobacco, she said, citing the Australian example, which has experienced first promising results. Plain packaging will be implemented in France on 20 May 2016, she said. According to the Ministry of Health, the initiative launched by Touraine is intended to prompt other countries to adopt plain packaging. Countries participating in the conference have pledged to cooperate to promote the implementation of plain packaging measures, a source from the Health Ministry told Intellectual Property Watch. Countries attending the conference pledged to reflect on a common initiative to support plain packaging, with the aim of starting a campaign promoting plain packaging expected to be launched at the next World Health Assembly in May 2016, the source said. In a background document [pdf in French], the ministry listed a number of initiatives by countries around the world to reduce tobacco consumption, some of which are thinking of introducing plain packaging, among other measures. According to the document, in 2014 and 2015, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France and Norway adopted legislation requiring plain packaging. In Belgium, the parliament rejected the principle of plain packaging, but there is an ongoing evaluation by the health ministry of the Australian experience. Burkina Faso has adopted a law introducing plain packaging, but its implementation has been delayed due to efforts led by the tobacco industry in the country, according to the document. Some countries, such as Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey and Uruguay, are implementing health warning displays covering 50 to over 80 percent of tobacco product packaging. Nepal has adopted legislation requiring that 90 percent of the packaging being devoted to health warnings. According to the document, this is the “most ambitious” health warnings in the world. Hungary, New Zealand and South Africa are contemplating the introduction of plain packaging, according to the document. According to sources, Chile too introduced a project law to its parliament that includes plain packaging. The five countries (Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia and Ukraine) that have initiated disputes at the WTO repeatedly asked at the WTO Council of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that countries interested in plain packaging wait for the outcome of the dispute at the WTO before engaging further in their legislative process. The Dominican Republic in a statement made at the TRIPS Council in February said, “By stripping all design elements from tobacco packaging and standardizing other packaging features, plain packaging measures undermine the basic features of trademarks and geographical indications (“GIs”) as protected under the TRIPS Agreement.” The country also challenged the positive effect of plain packaging on smoking, arguing that in Australia where packaging does not distinguish brands but prices still vary, consumers have shifted to cheaper low-end licit and illicit tobacco products. The source from the French Health Ministry said France is following with attention actions that have been initiated against countries already engaged in plain packaging: Australia, England and Ireland. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."France Spearheads Push For Plain Packaging Of Tobacco Products" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.