WTO notification of Norway’s plain packaging plan

    Norway’s Ministry of Health and Care Services has proposed the imposition of a requirement for all tobacco products to be sold in standardized packaging, according to a World Trade Organization notification.
    It has not been decided when the measure should be adopted or when it should come into force. Comments are being invited.
    ‘Standardized tobacco packaging involves a uniform layout and design on all tobacco packaging, as well as a ban on manufacturers’ logos, trademarks, images, colours or other forms of advertising,’ the notification states.
    ‘Packaging shall only have one solid colour, and some of the products will be required to have specific packaging materials. Brand names and variant names, as well as manufacturer information, shall have standardized colour, placement, font and size. The ministry also proposes standardization of other elements such as barcodes, packing material, etc. The packaging shall retain the mandatory health warnings and other information in accordance with current legislation.
    ‘The ministry furthermore proposes that the design of tobacco products and smoking accessories should be standardised to a certain extent, including the colour of the cigarette paper and snus portions, as well as the specification of brand names and variant names.
    ‘A legal basis for standardizing the packaging of tobacco surrogates is also proposed, but specific regulations are not proposed at this time. Tobacco surrogates include herbal cigarettes and herbal snus, among others.’
    The notification says that the overarching objective of the proposal is to reduce the number of children and youngsters who begin smoking and using snus, in order to protect them from the harmful effects of tobacco use.
    ‘More specifically the objective is to make tobacco products less appealing by limiting the advertising effect of the packaging, increasing the impact of the mandatory health warnings, as well as minimising the risk that the packaging design gives misleading information about the harmful health effects of tobacco,’ it said.
    ‘It is assumed that the measure will also contribute toward a moderate reduction in the use of tobacco among adults by helping people to quit smoking and using snus, and by helping to prevent relapse among those who have quit.
    ‘It will also have the effect of denormalizing tobacco products and tobacco use.