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SFP Press release: Over 100 countries have adopted pictorial health warnings, and almost 20 have adopted or are considering the introduction of plain standardised packaging, shows a new international status report

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Brussels – Over 100 countries have adopted pictorial health warnings, and almost 20 have adopted or are considering the introduction of plain standardised packaging, shows a new international status report.

The report launched today by the Canadian Cancer Society at the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, shows significant global momentum toward effective labelling and packaging policies for tobacco products.

The Smoke Free Partnership (SFP) welcomes the report which shows that tobacco warnings are an unstoppable worldwide trend with 105 countries and territories having required picture health warnings on cigarette packages. In addition, four countries have adopted plain standardised packaging: Australia (effective in 2012), the United Kingdom and France (effective May 20, 2016, at the manufacturer level) and Hungary (effective in 2018) and other 14 countries worldwide are at various stages of considering this measure to protect young people from smoking.

Florence Berteletti, SFP Director stated: ‘’This report is encouraging as it shows that governments are increasingly embracing larger, graphic health warnings on tobacco, a measure proven effective in reducing the appeal of tobacco products, particularly to children and young people. The leap in adopting and preparing legislation for plain standardised packaging worldwide is due to the solid evidence that it is effective in preventing children from picking up smoking. At the same time, political leadership of governments all over the world for standing up to extraordinary pressures by the tobacco industry in adopting these measures cannot be praised enough”.

The report ‘’Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status’’ ranks 205 countries and territories on the size of their health warnings on cigarette packages, and lists countries and territories that require graphic picture warnings. The report also shows that many countries have increased the size of picture warnings on cigarette packages as evidence shows that larger pictures are more effective.

In the EU, the 2014 Tobacco Products Directive which entered into force in May 2016 requires that all cigarette packs carry large pictorial warnings covering 65% of the front and the back of the packet, along with information on quitting. As of November 2016, almost all the EU Member States have transposed and implemented these provisions into their national laws.

The report shows that 105 countries and territories, representing 58% of the world population, have finalised picture warning requirements, an increase from the 77 that had implemented these requirements by the end of 2014. 94 countries and territories require warnings to cover at least 50% of the package front and back (on average), up from 60 countries in 2014 and 24 in 2008.

Graphic health warnings are one of the most cost- effective public health measures available to governments. The Smoke Free Partnership will continue to support the introduction of strong tobacco packaging measures including large pictorial warnings and plain standardised packaging to reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products particularly to children and young people. The introduction of plain standardised packaging, already in force in two EU Member States, has been upheld as legitimate in the EU Court of Justice as well as in national courts.


Note to the editors

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