Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (Nov 2016)

Tobacco packaging and labelling policies in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific Regions: Post-deadline assessment of the time-bound measures of WHO FCTC Article 11

  • Aya Mostafa,
  • Mina Kashiwabara

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2, no. November


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Introduction Article 11 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) forms the basis for regulation of tobacco product packaging and labelling. Countries are required to implement these measures within three years after becoming a Party to the Convention. This paper aims to assess the progress made in the implementation of Article 11 in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) and Western Pacific Region (WPR) in relation to the entry into force of the WHO FCTC, highlighting regional differences. Methods We assessed the tobacco control laws and regulations up to December 2014 from all 49 countries in both regions against 15 time-bound measures of Article 11. Results Most countries (44, 90%) adopted text-based health warnings. After they were formally bound by the Convention, 25 countries (51%) introduced pictorial health warnings (PHWs); 13 (59%) in the EMR and 12 (44%) in the WPR. However, only 11 countries (44%) met the deadline. Overall, just 10 countries (20%) were highly compliant with the time-bound measures, yet none was fully compliant with all 15 measures. The most common adopted time-bound measure was mandating health warnings in the national tobacco control laws (90%), while the least common was banning descriptors depicting flavours (4%). Conclusions Ratifying the WHO FCTC created a breakthrough in implementing some time-bound measures of Article 11 and strengthening health warnings, specifically facilitating the introduction of PHWs in both regions. Continued efforts to fully implement the time-bound measures of Article 11 are still needed in both regions.