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Society congratulates UK and France on plain packaging implementation

19 May 2016

Toronto -

The Society congratulates the governments of the UK and France for implementing tobacco plain packaging on Friday May 20, adding to international momentum in tobacco control. Australia was the first country to do so in 2012.

Today, the English High Court fully confirmed the legal validity of plain packaging, dismissing a tobacco industry court challenge that sought to strike down the legislation.

Plain packaging prohibits brand colours, logos and graphics on tobacco packages. Graphic health warnings and pictures still appear, but the rest of the package is a standard colour for all brands, such as the drab brown required in Australia. Package dimensions are standardized, eliminating slim and superslim packs, as well as other attractive package formats recently introduced by tobacco companies.

“It is essential to provide protection from tobacco industry marketing tactics, especially for children,” says Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “A growing number of other countries are requiring plain packaging, which will make it easier for Canada to do so. The international trend is very positive.”

On November 13, 2015, a mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Minister of Health Jane Philpott included plain packaging as a “top priority.” Plain packaging was part of the federal government’s election platform.

“Tobacco companies have introduced new, attractive package formats in recent months. This provides further rationale to require plain packaging,” says Cunningham. “Tobacco companies are increasingly using the package as a promotional tool while they still can.”

In addition to Australia, France and the UK, Ireland will soon implement legislation adopted earlier. Plain packaging is also under formal consideration in Norway, Hungary, Slovenia, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. The May 20 implementation in France and the UK is at the manufacturer level – a transition period will allow existing inventory to be sold.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. Smoking kills 37,000 Canadians every year. The 2014 Canadian Community Health Survey found that 18% of Canadians (more than 5 million people) are smokers.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham

Senior Policy Analyst

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: (613) 565-2522 ext 4981