Actualizado: 31 mar 2020
Turkey is the latest European country to adopt plain packaging for cigarettes, following France, the UK, Norway, and Ireland. The aim of this regulation is to curb tobacco consumption, especially among the young. The new regulation mandates cigarette manufacturers to use a single, standard pack without logos, graphics or similar signs promoting the product. Each pack will have a mandatory space taking up 85% of its size for health warnings with photos.
Plain packaging has been of concern for brands since its inception, as it’s very hard for tobacco brands to operate in the market without being able to display their trademarks.
Originally introduced in Australia in 2012, plain packaging prescribes deliberately unattractive solid-colour packaging with health warnings and minimal presence of the brand. The Australian law was contested by Philip Morris (Marlboro) before courts first and later by Honduras, Cuba, Indonesia and the Dominican Republic (all of them tobacco producers) before the World Trade Organisation. The arguments against the law are mainly that plain packaging is a form of trademark infringement and a contravention of trade regulations.
The right to own property is a fundamental human right and this includes the protection of property rights, physical and intellectual. Therefore, the main argument advanced by the Tobacco Industry against plain packaging was that it would deprive them of their legitimate property: trademark rights. This argument fell on deaf ears and all legal attempts to stop the trend have so far failed.
We can only expect that more countries will follow Turkey and progressively adopt this measure in what it was become a tricky balancing act between public health and brand owners’ rights and interests.