This World No Tobacco Day the World Health Organisation is calling on countries worldwide to get ready for plain packaging of cigarettes.
It comes on the back of the United Kingdom and France introducing plain packaging in May, and countries including Ireland and Hungary in advanced stages of implementation of plain packaging.
Plain packaging was introduced by Australia in December 2012, and since then results have shown a significant impact on smoking behaviours.
Plain packaging removes logos, colours, brand images and promotional information from cigarette packages – all packs are a standard colour, with a standard font, and a large, graphic health warning.
It is recognised to reduce attractiveness to consumers, most importantly young people, to stop them taking up smoking, and reduces appeal to current smokers to help them quit.
Around the world
Over 20 countries around the world are at various stages of implementing, progressing or investigating plain packaging laws.
Norway, Hungary and New Zealand are currently taking significant legislative steps, while other countries including Canada, South Africa and Sweden are strongly discussing plain packaging.
United Kingdom and France go plain
The UK and France implemented plain packaging of cigarettes on 20 May, 2016.
All new cigarettes sold in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and France will now carry plain packaging, with one year permitted to sell existing stock in the UK and just over six months in France.
For the UK it was a journey that started in 2012, almost three years before the legislation was passed in March, 2015.
Cancer Research UK brought the message to a national audience, developing videos highlighting the need to protect children from tobacco marketing.
Over the next three years, around 90,000 supporters took action on the campaign with petitions, visits to parliament and over 200,000 people responding to the initial 2012 Government consultation.
Coming soon in Ireland
Plain packaging of cigarettes in Ireland is on hold for now, after initially being slated for May 20, in line with the UK and France.
Ireland’s national elections took place in February, 2016, and a delay in forming government has meant an amendment to the bill is yet to go through parliament.
Paul Gordon, Policy Officer at the Irish Cancer Society, hopes the bill will pass in the coming months.
He says the evidence from plain packaging in Australia has been significant in helping Ireland to progress their legislation.
“We were able to point to evidence that in Australia, people perceived plain packs to be of lower quality, found smoking less satisfying than the year before the introduction of plain packaging, and thought more about quitting,” he says.
“The positive results experienced in Australia allowed us to combat spurious arguments from the tobacco industry, retailers and others, and galvanised the message that plain packaging was such an important measure in tobacco control.”