Tunisia: new health warnings of 70% on front and back of packages of tobacco products

In Tunisia, tobacco weighs heavily on the health of its population and on its economy. In 2019, 13,200 deaths, or 20% of all deaths are attributable to tobacco, while the economic losses represent 1.8% of the national GDP.

Jointly supported by WHO and the Convention Secretariat, through the FCTC 2030 project, the Ministry of Health in Tunisia developed graphic health warnings to be included in the external packaging of tobacco products. The graphic health warnings were introduced by the Order of the Minister of Heath, published on 15 February 2022 in the official gazette of the Republic of Tunisia.

The Order mentions that the outer cover of packets and wrappers of tobacco products of all kinds and forms displayed directly to the consumer must contain written and pictorial health warnings describing the harmful effects of smoking. The health warnings must occupy at least seventy percent (70%) of the front and back of the package (up from a previous size of 30% each side), which makes these health warnings the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Health messages and warnings must be written in Arabic and in another foreign language.

The statements contained in the warnings must meet the following requirements: be approved by the Ministry of Health, be featured at the top of the package, be featured on both sides of the package, be printed in clear characters and images on a contrasting background, be apparent and understandable, not appear in a place where they risk being damaged when the package is opened, not be placed on the transparent sheet or on any other outer wrapping paper. Additionally, the templates for the health warnings should be reviewed periodically (each year).

This piece has been elaborated with the contribution of Dr Fatimah El Awa, Regional Advisor on tobacco control, at the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, and Ms Olfa Saidi, National Officer at the WHO Country Office in Tunisia.

For more information, please, contact Ms Olfa Saidi (saidio@who.int).