WHO Boosts Efforts For Plain Packaging 31/05/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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)“Tobacco-related illness is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced,” according to the World Health Organization, and plain packaging of tobacco products can save lives, it said. The theme of this year’s no-tobacco day, today, is: Get ready for plain packaging, as the WHO is calling for countries to introduce plain packaging in their territories. Following agreement by WHO members on an international anti-tobacco convention that included a recommendation to use plain packaging of tobacco products, Australia introduced plain packaging in 2012 amidst attempts by the tobacco industry to fight the legislation (IPW, Public Health, 20 November 2014). [Plain packaging] kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people – WHO Director Margaret Chan Five countries challenged Australia’s legislation at the World Trade Organization for breach of international trade law, including on trademarks and geographical indications. In May 2014, the WTO appointed a single panel to study the five complaints: Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Indonesia (IPW, Public Health, 26 April 2014). The WHO in a release explained that “plain packaging of tobacco products restricts or prohibits the use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information on packaging other than brand and product names displayed in a standard colour and font style.” Other Countries Following Australia’s Lead A number of countries have followed in the footsteps of Australia. The second country to pass a plain packaging legislation was Ireland, in March 2015, and is preparing to introduce the measure, according to the WHO release. France who passed a plain packaging legislation in January, began implementation (in French) on 20 May 2016. The United Kingdom also will implement its plain packaging legislation after winning a legal challenge brought by four of the world’s biggest tobacco firms: Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International (IPW, Public Health, 20 May 2016). According to the WHO release, other countries are exploring the option. Australia’s Success; E-Cigarette Threats to Health According to the WHO release, smoking in Australia has been steadily declining for years. Between December 2012 and September 2015, there was an additional 0.55 percentage point fall in smoking prevalence among those aged 14 and above attributable to the packaging changes, according Australia’s post-implementation review.” “This equates to more than 108,000 people quitting, not relapsing or not starting to smoke during that period,” the release added. According to the WHO, plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, quoted in the release, said, “It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people.” The release said that WHO is launching a new guide to plain packaging of tobacco products to mark World No Tobacco Day (31 May), “which gives governments the latest evidence and guidance on implementing the measure.” Separately today, after a press briefing on the issue, WHO indicated that “E-cigarettes contain many chemical flavours that have not been approved for inhalation.” A 2014 WHO backgrounder following a report [pdf] to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on e-cigarettes, said “Since 2005, the e-cigarette industry has grown from one manufacturer in China to an estimated US$3 billion global business with 466 brands, a market in which the tobacco industry is taking a greater stake.” Image Credits: World Health Organization 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."WHO Boosts Efforts For Plain Packaging" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.