South Africa: Sifting Out Facts in the Tactics Used By the Tobacco Industry Against Plain Packaging

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Plain packaging is recommended as an evidence-based, best-practice policy for reducing tobacco consumption by the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), an international treaty ratified by 180 countries, including South Africa. Because the tobacco industry needs to create the next generation of young smokers to ensure its future profitability, a policy such as plain packaging is a direct threat to its long-term sustainability. The tobacco industry is, therefore, using all kinds of tactics to slow down its implementation.

In the last week of July 2019, many media articles were circulated regarding a recent tobacco industry-funded public opinion survey on South Africans' attitudes towards plain packaging of cigarette packs. Plain packaging in South Africa is proposed in the draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill. Plain packaging has already been implemented in eight countries (Australia, France, UK, Norway, Ireland, Hungary, New Zealand, and Slovenia).

A 20-page report co-authored by Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Victory Research is publicly available. In the foreword, the authors write: "We understand that the easiest rebuttal to our views and the evidence we have shared against plain packaging is to state we have a vested interest to skew evidence...

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