WMA urges All Governments to Adopt Plain Cigarette Packs

(15.10.2012) The World Medical Association has urged the world's governments to follow the example of the Australian Government by introducing plain packaging of cigarettes.

Delegates at the WMA's annual General Assembly in Bangkok, Thailand deplored the legal moves by the tobacco industry to oppose the Australian Government's legislation.

Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, WMA Chair and an Australian general practitioner, said: ‘Big tobacco has aggressively fought this significant public health initiative to curb the dangers of smoking. The WMA congratulates the Australian Government for showing leadership and resilience in refusing to bow to this pressure and successfully defending the legislation in the High Court of Australia.'

The WMA Assembly strongly supported the view that cigarette brand recognition is strongly linked to cigarette packaging and that plain packaging reduces the impact of branding, promotion and marketing of cigarettes.

Delegates also agreed a new policy statement declaring that physicians should inform their patients about the risks of using electronic cigarettes. The statement said that quality control processes used to manufacture e-cigarettes were either substandard or non-existent and few studies had been done to analyse the level of nicotine delivered to the user and the composition of the vapour produced.

Dr. Haikerwal said: ‘Manufacturers and distributors mislead people into believing these devices are acceptable alternatives to scientifically proven cessation techniques. They are not. Unknown amounts of nicotine are delivered to the user, and the level of absorption is unclear, leading to potentially toxic levels of nicotine in the system.

‘There are better, proven safe ways to stop smoking. The safety effectiveness of e cigarettes has to be determined.'

Full text of Resolution: http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/c21/index.html