The global movement towards tobacco plain packaging: Policy, politics and legal challenges


Get ready for plain tobacco packaging!

The session addressed the recent progress in selected countries, and some bumps on the policy-making road to quash the appeal of packaging.

The global movement towards tobacco plain packaging: Policy, politics and legal challenges by Ingrid Stenstavold Ross, Norwegian Cancer Society (Norway), Sajeewa Ranaweera, National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (Sri Lanka), Maizurah Omar, Clearinghouse for Tobacco Control, National Poison Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia (Malaysia), Jonathan Liberman, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer (Australia) and chaired by Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK (United Kingdom).

Norway faces a great deal of challanges worldwide as the tobacco industry uses the courtroom to delay the policy making. The tobacco industries try to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) by differentiating tobacco products. However, the FCTC does not distinguish between tobacco products and companies. Ingrid Stenstavold Ross further added that it is decisive to reduce tobacco appeal.

Following that, Sajeewa Ranaweera claimed that all smokeless tobacco products are banned in Sri Lanka and nearly one hundred towns not selling tobacco products anymore as a result of community intervention. He also hinted that "when a government perceive that people need it, they'll implement it".
On the other hand, studies by Maizurah Omar in Malaysia have revealed that plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of the product and when combined with pictorial health warnings, it encouraged more people to quit and fewer to start. The implementation of plain packaging in Malaysia would prevent the industry from continuing to exploit loopholes in existing packaging and labelling regulations.

Understanding tobacco use is a very serious public health issue, in Australia the science and credibility of tobacco packaging was uphold. Jonathan Liberman also added that the WHO FCTC really matters and tobacco control measures need to be given time to work.

Overall, tobacco control requires a comprehensive approach. Thus, the encouragement to policy makers is sorely needed.

Article contributed by Logeswary Krisnan