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Plain packaging of tobacco products: the logical next step for tobacco control policy in India
  1. Amit Yadav1,
  2. Gaurang P Nazar1,
  3. Tina Rawal1,
  4. Monika Arora1,2,
  5. Premila Webster3,
  6. Nathan Grills4
  1. 1 HRIDAY, New Delhi, Delhi, India
  2. 2 Health Promotion Division, Public Health Foundation of India, Gurugram, India
  3. 3 Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4 Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Monika Arora; monika{at}


India implemented larger 85% pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products from 1 April 2016. However, to remove the last bit of glamour and attraction from the tobacco packs, it must now embrace plain packaging. Plain packaging prevents tobacco packs from carrying the tobacco industry brand imagery as mobile billboards. Postimplementation of larger 85% pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products, this analysis was undertaken to assess the feasibility of plain packaging as the next logical tobacco control policy measure in India. As part of this analysis, the research team reviewed the available literature on legal and policy challenges to plain packaging as a tobacco control policy initiative for India. Literature from 2010 to 2016 in English language was reviewed, which reveals that, India has taken several preparatory steps implemented by other countries like Australia and the UK that have introduced plain packaging, for example, stronger smoke-free laws, ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, increase in taxes and a report from civil society task force on plain packaging. The trade and investment agreements signed by India are also within the international trade norms relating to public health. A Private Member’s Bill on plain packaging is also pending in the Parliament of India. Other potential challenges against such policy decision, for example, freedom of trade, right to property, violation of competition law and other laws including consumer protection laws, were found unsubstantiated by the research team. Plain packaging is the next logical step for tobacco control policy in India.

  • health policy
  • public health
  • review

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors AY, MA, NG, PW and GPN contributed to developing the concept and design of the study. AY contributed to the planning and supervising data collection and management, data analysis, interpretation of data and drafting and revising the manuscript. MA, NG, PW, TR and GPN provided technical inputs on data analysis and interpretation of results. PW, MA, TR, NGP and NG contributed to revising the manuscript critically for intellectual contents. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript and are accountable for the accuracy and integrity of any part of the work.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data available for this study.

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