Saudi Arabia tells WTO it plans to adopt plain tobacco packaging

Access to the comments Comments
By Reuters
Saudi Arabia tells WTO it plans to adopt plain tobacco packaging

<p><span class="caps">GENEVA</span> (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia notified the World Trade Organization on Wednesday that it plans to adopt plain packaging of tobacco products, a public health measure strongly opposed by major tobacco firms.</p> <p>The move by Saudi Arabia, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council trade bloc, follows a <span class="caps">WTO</span> ruling in June in favour of Australian packaging laws in what was seen as a test case for tobacco control.</p> <p>Cuba, Indonesia, Honduras and Dominican Republic had tried to block Australia’s laws at the <span class="caps">WTO</span>, arguing that its ban on colourful logos and its standardised drab olive packets were a breach of intellectual property rules and unduly restricted trade. </p> <p>But a panel of <span class="caps">WTO</span> adjudicators backed Australia, which called it a “resounding victory” for the laws it introduced in 2010.</p> <p>The World Health Organization said it expected the <span class="caps">WTO</span> ruling to create a domino effect as more and more countries moved towards tough Australian-style tobacco laws.</p> <p>Hungary, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Norway and Britain have also brought in plain packaging laws, while another seven countries have passed laws yet to be implemented – Burkina Faso, Canada, Georgia, Romania, Slovenia, Thailand and Uruguay.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia did not say when it proposed to introduce the new rules but it is set to become the first country in its region to do so. </p> <p>“There’s no other Gulf country that has implemented plain packaging, and we’re not aware of any other Gulf country looking to implement at the moment,” <span class="caps">WHO</span> spokesman Paul Garwood said. </p> <p>Honduras and Dominican Republic are appealing against the <span class="caps">WTO</span> ruling, but Indonesia and Cuba have accepted it.</p> <p/> <p> (Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by David Stamp)</p>