New CARICOM cigarette labelling requirements could hurt producers

cigJAMAICA–Following the 35th meeting of the Caribbean Community’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in Guyana last December, all cigarettes sold and distributed in the region must start carrying pictorial health warnings by the end of this year. 

This means that cigarette packets, which currently have text on them warning of the likely impact of smoking on the health of users, will also have to carry pictures and pictograms, depicting diseases that may arise from the consumption of tobacco products.

According to the Jamaica Gleaner, local tobacco marketer and distributor Carreras Limited is now weighing the costs of having to implement this new regional standard for labelling by year-end.

Managing director of Carreras, Richard Pandohie said the company received notification in December of CARICOM’s decision to adopt the regional standards.

Pandohie said he expected that complying with the new requirements would be “costly” as new packaging would have to be designed and introduced to replace their current packaging by the deadline, although the official implementation date had not yet been given.

Pandohie said the company would have to find internal ways to cut costs to compensate, saying “we really can’t burden the customers with any more costs at this stage.”

Carreras currently markets and distributes four brands in Jamaica including Craven A and holds an estimated market share of 98 per cent of the local tobacco industry.

The CARICOM Secretariat has described the decision by CROSQ as an “historic” one.

It said all member states present at the meeting, chaired by Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade A.J. Nicholson, voted in favour of accepting the CROSQ’s new requirements as the regional standard.

“CARICOM member states have now taken a major step in meeting a significant obligation under Article 11 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to which most member states are signatories and which entered into force in February 2005,” the statement said.

Article 11 calls on countries which are parties to the Convention, within three years after entry into force, to adopt and implement effective measures to ensure tobacco packages are labelled according to guidelines developed by the World Health Organisation’s FCTC Secretariat.

“The Convention calls for parties to, among other requirements, implement rotating health warnings on tobacco packaging that cover at least 30 per cent – ideally 50 per cent – of the display areas, which may include pictures or pictograms,” the CARICOM Secretariat said.

“In adopting the regional standard on tobacco labelling, CARICOM countries would have met this important obligation,” it added.

“In so doing, CARICOM member states have also met the related obligation under the Port-of-Spain Declaration (2007) on Non-Communicable Diseases. All manufacturers, importers, retailers and other entities engaged in the production and or trade of tobacco products within any member state of CARICOM need to comply with the regional standards,” the statement said.





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