Plain tobacco packaging in the EU


Michiel Rijsdijk

Australia is the first country in the world to have mandatory plain packaging for tobacco products. Tobacco packs in Australia have to be olive green, with 75 percent of the front and 90 percent of the back covered in health warnings and pictures of the effects of tobacco use. The European parliament has proposed similar rules in revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive.

One of the proposed revisions was that cigarette packs should contain large pictorial health warnings. These would ideally cover 75 percent of the front and back of these packs. This has led to protests, although the proposed revisions do not have the same scope as the Australian rules.

Tobacco companies operating in Europe are still allowed to brand their packs, which is not true for Australia. The European Commission (EC) provides member states with a library of health warning pictures. The trademark holder will now have to use one of these pictures to cover its product. Owners of tobacco brands are considering the effect this could have on their business and their trademark rights.

The question is whether these restrictions are justifiable. One finds oneself in a continuous debate as to whether there is a ‘right’ to use a trademark.

trademark, tobacco, EU,