Adopt plain packaging to curb tobacco consumption: WHO

May 31, 2016

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has on No-Tobacco Day called on all nations to enforce plain packaging for tobacco products to discourage its use. Plain packaging is one of the easiest ways to help in the efforts to banish tobacco. Introducing plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products can save lives by reducing the demand for tobacco products. Tobacco kills 6 million people every year.

WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh has said tobacco continues to be a major public health issue in South-East Asia. About 246 million people in the region's 11 countries continue to smoke tobacco and 290 million people consume it in other ways. In the region, tobacco is leading to the death of 1.3 million people a every year ie 150 per hour. Today Tuesday is No Tobacco Day.

Making the plain packaging of tobacco products, also known as standardized packaging, mandatory will help a lot, she said. Plain packaging means branding and promotional information is removed from tobacco packaging and replaced by graphic health warnings, dull color combinations, a brand name and a product and/or manufacturer's name in standardized font.

In December 2012, Australia became the first country to fully implement plain packaging. On May 20, 2016, France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland also began implementation of plain packaging.

“Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people,” says WHO Director- General Dr Margaret Chan. “It restricts tobacco advertising and promotion. It limits misleading packaging and labelling. And it increases the effectiveness of health warnings.”

All the 11 member-countries, including Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, have developed and implemented tobacco control legislation. The 7th session of the Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention will be held by India in November. It can be a forum to emphasize the importance of plain packaging.

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