Following a recent law change, cigarettes and snus in Norway will be required to have plain packaging, as of July 1st. In order to reduce smoking rates in the country and after a transitional phase, the Norwegian Government decided to enforce neutral packaging (no logo, symbol, picture or colour) for cigarette packs and boxes of snus.
Despite complaints by snus producer Swedish Match, the Norwegian government refused to listen to evidence. In fact, no credible evidence shows that plain packaging has an effect on tobacco consumption or smoking initiation. It does on the other hand have an effect in driving illegal trade by making it easier to counterfeit legal products, as the example of the United Kingdom demonstrates. Plain packaging also undermines the ability of small tobacco producers who make niche brands to compete on the market, as they can no longer be easily identified by the smoker.
ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said: “It is regrettable to see that once again, measures aren’t motivated by real health concerns, but rather by politics and ideology. Plain packaging has proven to achieve the opposite of what it is intended to, by facilitating the manufacture of counterfeited products and increasing smuggling.”