Norway: Workshop on legal issues relating to the implementation of plain / standardized tobacco packaging in Europe

The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Norwegian Cancer Society, and the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer jointly conducted a workshop on legal issues relating to the implementation of plain (or standardized) tobacco packaging in Europe. The workshop included government officials, WHO FCTC Convention Secretariat and WHO representatives, and NGO and academic experts from Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

Participants discussed Australia’s experience in successfully implementing plain packaging, lessons learned from that experience, and the positive evaluations of the early operation of the scheme. Participants discussed claims made by the tobacco industry that plain packaging will breach a number of domestic, European, and international laws, and identified responses to these claims. They noted the power of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, its guidelines on Article 11 (packaging and labelling) and Article 13 (tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) and other instruments adopted by the Conference of the Parties in supporting plain packaging against legal challenge.

Participants highlighted the importance of effective collaboration across different sectors of government, including health, attorney-general / justice, trade and foreign affairs, in the policy development and implementation processes, and in defending against legal challenges. They emphasized the importance of ongoing international cooperation, including exchange information and sharing of expertise and experience among Parties, and the role of the WHO FCTC and its institutions and processes in facilitating this cooperation.

The workshop was hosted by the Norwegian Cancer Society, supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, and conducted as a McCabe Centre WHO FCTC knowledge hub activity.