South Africa aims to force cigarette companies to sell products in plain packets by next year, despite an ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) investigation into Australia’s ban on tobacco branding, according to its health minister.
Since late 2012, tobacco products in Australia can only be sold in drab, olive-colored packets that look more like military or prison issue, with brands printed in small fonts.
Opponents of the law, who say it is heavy-handed and an invitation to counterfeiters, had hoped other countries would hold off from following Australia’s example pending a WTO case addressing complaints by tobacco-producing countries.
South Africa, New Zealand, France, India and Britain are all considering adopting standardized packaging on tobacco products but the African country hadn’t previously given a time frame.
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