Standardized tobacco containers are enforced in Norway
As of July 1, 2017 there rules for standardized cigarette packs, pouch tobacco and snus (snuff) boxes are in effect. The industry has been given one year to comply.
The purpose of introducing neutral tobacco containers is to refrain children and youngsters from smoking and using snus. Snus is now more popular than cigarettes in Norway.
The regulation implies that the tobacco containers will have the same (drab) colours and designs. There is a one-year transition period (until July 1, 2018) before all products sold in stores has to be standardized. Norway is one of several countries that standardize tobacco containers.
Tobacco products required to have standardized packaging
There is a ban on import or sales of tobacco products which are not standardized. Standardized tobacco containers entails that the same design and shape for all containers in the same product category. It will no longer be permitted to use the manufacturer’s logos, trademarks, symbols, images, colours or other design elements on the containers.
Detailed information about the requirements for the packaging of tobacco is provided in the regulations (lovdata.no)
The regulation, among other things, regulate colour (specifically a sickly green colour), packing elements such as material, luster, opening mechanism and shape, as well as the size of the font regarding brand and variant names and information provided in general.
Tobacco products affected
Manufacturers of cigarettes, pouch tobacco and snuff are required to comply. The reason for including snus is the dramatic increase in usage among young people over the past 10-15 years (Even though there are no significant data showing damage to the health). In the same time frame, there have also been many types of snus with varied and appealing designs made available.
For other tobacco products, mainly used by elderly or small consumer groups, such as cigars, cigarillios and pipe tobacco, there is no requirement for standardization. The authorities will review this exception if the usage profile is changed in the future.
All tobacco products has to be labeled with text and images pointing at health hazards associated with tobacco. The Regulations on Content and Labeling of Tobacco (Lovdata.no) contain detailed labeling rules. Due to changes in EU regulations, these will be changed soon.
By limiting the packaging’s advertising effect, tobacco products will presumably be made less attractive. The purpose of the measure is also to increase the effect of health warnings and minimize the risk that the package design will provide a misleading impression of the health risk.
Studies show that users perceive standardized tobacco packages as less attractive than packages with logo / brand design. Users also consider standardized packages to contain a product of poorer quality and taste.
Experiences and effect
Norway is the fourth country in the world to introduce standardized cigarette packs, and the first country in the world to introduce standardized snus boxes without logo and vivid colours, mainly because the use of snus is restricted to the Scandinavian countries.
Positive experiences from Australia
A comprehensive study from the Australian Ministry of Health concludes that the introduction of standardized packaging has had the desired effect.
The Norwegian Institute for Public Health has reviewed available research on standardized packaging of tobacco and reaches the same conclusion:
– In support of the research carried out on standardized tobacco containers, supports that standardized packaging of tobacco might change perceptions and attitudes and therefore in turn contribute to a decline in use of tobacco.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health points out in its report that the knowledge base to reach conclusions regarding the effect of standardized packaging of snus is very limited, but the few studies that have been made indicate that the measure will make snus less appealing to consumers.
With regard to the actual purchase situation, experience from Australia shows that standardized tobacco products do not appear to adversely affect the time of transaction in stores. Investigations showed that after a short period of time, the transaction time for sales returned to normal.
© helsedirektoratet / Norway Today