The South African government plans to force cigarette companies to sell products in plain packets as early as next year as part of efforts to discourage tobacco advertising, according to media reports on Friday. This is despite an ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) investigation into Australia’s ban on tobacco branding.
“I am not even sure we can wait for that WTO decision. We can start making preparations now,” South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told Reuters news agency.
The move means South Africa joins New Zealand, France, India and Britain which are all considering adopting standardized packaging on tobacco products.
Opponents to the law have indicated that this could promote the production of counterfeit products as the branding will be less distinct.
Since late 2012, tobacco products in Australia can only be sold in dull, olive-colored packets that look more like military or prison issue, with brands printed in small fonts.
Smoking in public places is banned in South Africa and the packaging carries bold health warnings Health experts are also pushing for tougher restrictions which include banning smoking in cars when travelling with children under the age of 12 years.
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