WHO pushes for plain packaging of tobacco products

WHOThe World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat (WHO FCTC) have stepped up the campaign to implement plain packaging of tobacco products, a tobacco control recommendation in the WHO FCTC guidelines.

The WHO and the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC said on World No Tobacco Day 2016 (May 31) that countries should “get ready for plain packaging”, a recommendation in Articles 11 and 13 of the WHO FCTC which entered into force in 2005, obliging its parties to reduce tobacco supply and demand.

Plain packaging means promotional packaging of tobacco products and the use of logos, colours and brand images will be restricted and tobacco products will instead bear standardized packaging with the product and brand names in a specified colour and font, and possibly with large graphic images to make them unattractive.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan, said in a statement on the day, that plain packaging restricts the promotion and advertising of tobacco, limits misleading packaging and labelling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.

“Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people,” the Director-General said.

The WHO also launched an evidence-based guide for governments in plain packaging.

Australia is said to be the first country to fully implement plain packaging in December 2012, while France, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland each began implementation of plain packaging on May 20, 2016.

According to the WHO, approximately one person dies from a disease caused by tobacco every 6 seconds, equivalent to almost 6 million people a year.

The figure is projected to rise to more than eight million people a year by 2030, with more than 80 per cent of these preventable deaths occurring among people living in low and middle-income countries.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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