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France and UK join Australia as plain packaging leaders

Congratulations to France and the UK, which on 20 May 2016 join Australia as countries that have adopted plain packaging for tobacco products.

Plain packs are free of colours and all other branding, except for the manufacturers’ name written in a uniform plain style. Plain, or standardised, packaging is recommended in the tobacco control treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

In France and the UK, all packs manufactured after 20 May 2016 must be in plain packages. In France it will be an offence to sell branded tobacco packages after 1 Jan 2017. In the UK, plain packs must be on retail shelves by 20 May 2017.

Ireland on the way

A start date has not yet been set for plain packaging to come into force in Ireland.

As you’ll see on the map, many other countries are working towards plain packaging, despite predictable, costly legal challenges from the tobacco industry.

The Government of Australia, which adopted plain packaging in 2012, faced multiple lawsuits from Philip Morris, within the country and via an international investment agreement. The industry lost them all.

Industy ‘airily dismisses’ research

On 19 May 2016 a UK High Court rejected an industry challenge to plain packaging. The judge damned the evidence presented by the industry because it largely “ignores or airily dismisses the worldwide research and literature base which contradicts evidence tendered by the tobacco industry; and, is frequently unverifiable”.

Japan Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco have already said they will launch suits against the French Government’s plain packaging law.

Get ready for plain packaging is the theme for World No Tobacco Day 2016 (31 May). On our website you’ll find resources for tobacco control advocates and information about what FCA members are doing to get ready.

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