Malaysia: The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) is calling for plain packaging of cigarettes in conjunction with this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme

‘Pack cigarettes in plain packages to reduce appeal’

20 April 2016 

The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) is urging cigarette manufacturers to implement plain packaging on their products, said its treasurer-general Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah in a statement today.

Plain packaging of tobacco products refers to measures that prohibit or restrict the use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information on the packaging, except for brand and product names displayed in a standard colour and font.

“Plain packaging reduces the product’s attractiveness, limits advertising of the brand, and increases the effectiveness of the health warnings,” said Muhammad Sha’ani.

When Malaysiakini met him last Friday, Muhammad Sha’ani presented a video featuring children below the age of 10 that could recognise cigarette brands based on their packaging even if most did not know their names.

“They recognise them through the imagery and colour of their packaging. They recognise the rugged cowboy riding his horse or that short, catchy tagline printed in gold,” he added, referring to trademark brand icons of certain tobacco products.

The MCTC treasurer-general also said that in conjunction with ‘World No Tobacco Day 2016’ on May 31, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling countries to implement standardised plain packaging of tobacco products.

Articles 11 and 13 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control recommend that all involved parties with the tobacco industry consider the adoption of plain packaging.

The articles added that plain packaging builds upon other measures as part of a comprehensive multisectoral approach to tobacco control. Policy- makers, civil society and the public can take action to ensure that their governments consider adoption of plain packaging.

MCTC’s statement also revealed that Australia was the first country to adopt plain packaging in December 2012, and Ireland, the UK and France have passed laws to apply similar polices from May 2016 onwards.

The World No Tobacco Day 2016 objectives presented in the statement are as follows:

  • Highlight the role of plain packaging as part of a comprehensive, multisector approach to tobacco control;
  • Facilitate policy development by the member states and the globalisation of plain packaging by providing informative, compelling and persuasive information;
  • Encourage member states to strengthen packaging and labelling measures and restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship as they work towards plain packaging in a step-by-step approach; and
  • Support civil society against the tobacco industry interfering with political processes leading to the adoption of plain packaging laws.