WHO FCTC Durbin Meeting (Nov 17-22, 2008) - Generic Cigarette Packaging Proposal..

November 24, 2008 - Representatives of the 160 countries that have ratified the 2003 World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have been meeting in Durban, South Africa to discuss guidelines on the implementation of the treaty.

Among the proposals under consideration is a move towards generic or plain cigarette packs, with standardized colors, fonts and "only the most objective information," including a very large health warning, according to Heather Selin of the Framework Convention secretariat.

The FCTC treaty requires nations that have ratified the convention to ban all tobacco advertising and promotion. In the face of these restrictions, tobacco packaging has become the key promotional vehicle for the tobacco industry to interest smokers and potential smokers in tobacco products.

In an era of increased regulation, cigarette companies view packaging as their most "treasured advertising medium." (Becky Freeman, Simon Chapman, Matthew Rimmer, The case for the plain packaging of tobacco products, Addiction 103(4): 580-590, (3/13)2008, ABSTRACT

Andre Calantzopoulos
, CEO, Philip Morris International (PMI), tells us PMI strongly opposes generic packaging. (PMI presentation at JP Morgan Global Tobacco Conference, London,

British (United Kingdom, UK) have been considering banning logos on cigarette packs, other measures.. Tobacco Journal International, September 2, issue reports that according to tobacco analyst, David Adelman from Morgan Stanley, if generic packaging becomes a legal requirement in the UK, not only could it have a domino effect on other markets, but it could also have an adverse impact on cigarette brand equity (and) could result in considerably reduced profits. Not only would a standardization of cigarette packaging drive down pricing and put an end to the appeal of premium cigarettes, which carry higher profit margins, but it would also lead to a rise in illicit cigarette trade." ('Plain packets' law to strip cigarettes of their glamour Tobacco industry is worried that a ban on branded cigarette packaging would undermine its sales by Denis Campbell, guardian.co.uk)

Also under discussion is a proposal to make pictorial health warnings, rather than text-only warnings, the norm on packs. The tobacco treaty merely states that health warnings "may" include pictures or pictograms. Some new brief examples: Gruesome Photos on British Cigarette Packs.., Horror photos go on New Zealand cigarette packs.. and Discouraging Tobacco Use - Horrific Images on the Packaging...

References: Calls for generic cigarette packs at anti-smoking summit in Durban, by DPA, Monsters and Critics.com, 11/21/2008; COP3 - Third session of the Conference of the Parties, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), November 17-22, 2008.