First ministerial meeting on plain tobacco packaging

First ministerial meeting on plain tobacco packaging - Press statement from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights¹


The ministers and representatives of ministers of Australia, France, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Uruguay and the head of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat met in Paris today to discuss ways to reduce tobacco use through effective tobacco control strategies and policies, especially standardized packaging of tobacco products.

During the meeting, health ministers expressed their aspiration for a tobacco-free society and discussed the ongoing considerable burden on society of tobacco use, especially heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases.

Some countries have achieved reductions in tobacco use by implementing effective, evidence-based tobacco control policies as set out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), an international treaty which entered into force in 2005, and shared this valuable insight today with their peers.

Many smokers start using tobacco at a very young age meaning that they are addicted to using tobacco before adulthood. During the meeting, ministers expressed their concern about young people and women taking up tobacco use.

Ministers discussed the effect of advertising and promotion of tobacco products, especially concerning the design of tobacco packages and products.They acknowledged that significant scientific evidence exists to justify the introduction of standardized packaging.

Evidence suggests that standardized packaging is likely to have important public health benefits including:

- reducing the appeal of tobacco products to consumers, especially
women and young people;
- increasing the effectiveness of health warnings on the packaging of
tobacco products; and
- reducing the ability of tobacco packaging to mislead consumers about
the harmful effects of smoking.

Ministers stressed the need to keep tobacco control as a high-level priority on international and national health agendas and the need to continue searching for innovative measures to reduce tobacco use, especially to stop future generations from using tobacco. Changing social attitudes and norms around the use of tobacco is vital. Additionally, the WHO FCTC highlighted the need to become party to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and to promote the implementation of its provisions.

Ministers reaffirmed their desire to join forces to defend tobacco control policies and laws from the vested interests of the tobacco industry, as required by the FCTC. Governments around the world are encouraged to maximize transparency in their relations with the tobacco industry, in line with the obligations of the WHO FCTC Article 5.3.

Ministers expressed their support to the Convention Secretariat in promoting the implementation of the WHO FCTC and committed to continue to work closely together to promote the implementation of standardized packaging of tobacco. Ministers and their representatives agreed to consider common initiatives in support of standardized packaging in view of the next World Health Assembly in 2016.

¹Source of English text: French Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights.

Published on 22/07/2015

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