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What is Plain tobacco packaging?

refers to packaging that requires the removal of all branding (colours, imagery, corporate logos and trademarks), permitting manufacturers to print only the brand name in a mandated size, font and place on the pack, in addition to the health warnings and any other legally mandated information such as toxic constituents and tax-paid stamps. The appearance of all tobacco packs is standardised, including the colour of the pack.


Australia the first country prohibited the tabaco packaging

Australia was the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging, with all packets sold from 1 December 2012 being sold in logo-free, drab dark brown packaging. There has been opposition from tobacco companies to plain packaging laws, some of which have sued the Australian government. Since the Australian government won the court cases, several other countries have enacted plain packaging laws.


Other countries trying to fight with tabaco companies?

Plain packaging appears to have been first suggested in 1989 by the New Zealand Department of Health’s Toxic Substances Board which recommended that cigarettes be sold only in white packs with black text and no colours or logos.[2]

Public health officials in Canada developed proposals for plain packaging of tobacco products in 1994. A parliamentary committee reviewed the evidence and concluded that plain packaging could be a “reasonable step in the overall strategy to reduce tobacco consumption”.[3] This effort did not succeed due to trademark right concerns, specifically those related to Canada's commitments to the World Trade Organization and under the North American Free Trade Agreement.[4]

Australia, with the enactment of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act on 12 December 2011,[5] became the first country in the world to require tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging. Products manufactured after 1 October 2012, and all on sale after 1 December 2012 must be in the plain packaging.[6][7]

Following Australia's lead a number of other countries also require standardized packaging including France (applies to cigarettes sold after January 2017), United Kingdom (May 2017), New Zealand (June 2018), Norway (July 2018), Ireland (September 2018) and Hungary (May 2019).



First impressions in Australia indicated that smokers feel that cigarettes taste worse in plain packaging – an unexpected side effect.

The tobacco industry also expressed concern that plain packaging would increase the sales of counterfeit cigarettes.



Tobacco companies were also reported to have provided legal advice and funding to Ukraine and Honduras governments to launch a complaint in the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the grounds that the Australian legislation is contrary to a WTO intellectual property agreement. WTO complaints must be made by Governments, not companies.

British American Tobacco confirmed that they were helping Ukraine meet legal costs in their case against Australia.