Rush to plain packs – UK and Ireland’s move to pass tobacco plain packaging laws

Posted on: August 24th, 2015

Two European countries have joined Australia with laws mandating uniform branding on packaging for cigarettes and handrolled tobaccos. More are waiting in the wings.

In March 2015 the UK and Ireland passed plain pack laws. Final approval in France is expected this autumn. It is highly likely that they will be joined by other European countries including Norway, Sweden and Turkey, which are in the midst of consultations over this issue.

Across Europe to Asia Minor, more countries are working to adopt neutral packaging legislation – something that will be supported when the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) comes into effect in May 2016. The revised TPD sets minimums for pictorial health warnings to cover 65 per cent of the front and back and 50 per cent of the sides of cigarette and RYO packaging.

Branding is allowed in the remaining space, but TPD permits introduction of standardised or neutral packaging on the grounds of public health, providing it is proportionate and does not deliver hidden barriers to trade in the European Union (EU).

This sets the stage for a major legal confrontation between governments and tobacco manufacturers.

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