Panama rejects bill regarding plain packaging for tobacco
The Commission of Work and Health of the Assembly of Deputies of the Republic of Panama rejected a bill that would have established new regulations concerning “plain packaging” of cigarettes.
The bill included dispositions related to the content and publicity of the information on products that are derived from tobacco. Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 11 and 26 of Law 13 (which came into force on January 24, 2008) would have been modified by this new bill.
Specifically, Article 9 argued that all cigarettes packs marketed in Panama should have a simple packaging. While the tobacco´s producers trademark with the health warnings would remain, new criteria would have needed to be met such as generic packaging. This means a grey dark box (with the same shape, size and design for all cigarette packs) with letters with a specific size for the trademark name (Arial size 20, in bold).
This bill received serious criticism and input, among others, by the Inter American Association of Intellectual Property (ASIPI). This association considered that: “The bill (…) affects the property rights of a trademark owner. The obligation imposed by the same means the prohibition of use of the mark as it was registered and therefore applies the art. 20 of TRIPS. Furthermore, taking into account the knowledge that the general public has about the consequences of smoking, the imposition is unreasonable. (…), since the aim of informing about the risks of smoking, does not require removal of the brand. (…)”.
For more information about this bill please click here.
It is noteworthy that not only in Panama is dealing with this conflict. For example, Australia was the first country to implement a law that prohibits the advertising and trademarks signs on cigarette packages in 2012. All the tobacco packaging must be olive green with health warnings regarding the effects of smoking tobacco. This initiative was supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). The purpose of this regulation is that cigarette packages become less attractive for consumers. According to certain press sources in Australia, this change has decreased the smoking habit among the local population.
If you are interested in more details about the Australian Law, please click here.