Africa: WTO's Ruling On Plain Packaging of Tobacco a Victory in War On Smoking

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Now that the World Trade Organisation has ruled that plain packaging of tobacco products does not violate trade rules, the door is open for South Africa to go ahead with stricter controls.

The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Appellate body recently confirmed that Australia's tobacco plain-packaging measures are in compliance with trade rules and obligations; laying to rest all concerns that the measures may be in conflict with WTO law.

The WTO Appellate body found that plain packaging measures are suitable to reduce the appeal of tobacco products, enhance the effectiveness of health warnings, and reduce the ability of packaging features to mislead consumers.

This serves as a green light for South Africa's Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill which introduces tobacco plain packaging measures. It also provides valuable lessons not only for the tobacco control community, but for the entire public health community.

Tobacco plain packaging measures are effective

Plain packaging measures aim to restrict the advertising and promotion of tobacco products. As noted by Philip Morris International executive Mark Hulit, the "final communication vehicle with our smoker is the pack itself... when you don't have anything else -- our packaging is our marketing".

The measure involves...

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