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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The case for the plain packaging of tobacco products

  • Author(s): Becky Freeman, BSc, MSc
  • Simon Chapman, BA, PhD
  • Matthew Rimmer, BA, LLB, PhD
  • et al.

The global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires nations to ban all tobacco advertising and promotion. In the face of these restrictions, tobacco packaging has become the key promotional vehicle for the tobacco industry to interest smokers and potential smokers in tobacco products. This paper reviews available research into the likely impact of mandatory plain packaging and internal tobacco industry statements about the importance of packs as promotional vehicles. It critiques legal objections raised by the industry about plain packaging violating laws and international trade agreements, showing these to be without foundation. Plain packaging of all tobacco products would remove a key remaining means for the industry to promote its products to billions of the world’s smokers and future smokers. Governments have appropriated large surface areas of tobacco packs for health warnings without legal impediment or need to compensate tobacco companies. Requiring plain packaging is consistent with the intention to ban all tobacco promotions. There is no impediment in the FCTC to interpreting tobacco advertising and promotion to include tobacco packs.

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