Plain packaging for cigarettes and rolling tobacco

The Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) has announced that the Federal Cabinet has agreed to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products sold in Belgium. Tobacco products are sold in plain packaging in a number of other countries including France, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It is hoped that the measure will serve to reduce the number of smokers.  

Speaking on Friday afternoon Ms De Block told VRT News that "This is a very important decision that we have taken today. Examples set abroad show making cigarette and rolling tobacco packaging unattractive is very important in the fight against tobacco”.

"Our civil servants will start work straight away show that this measure can be introduced here as soon as possible”, the Health Minister added.

Once the Royal Decree on tobacco packaging is ready the European Commission and the Council of State will have their say on it before it comes into force.    

In June of this year a survey carried out by the Foundation Against Cancer found that 61% of Belgians are in favour of plain cigarette packaging. Half of the smokers question is also in favour.

The Foundations’ tobacco prevention expert Suzanne Gabriëls said the survey’s results supported the Health Minister policy plan to reduce the number of smokers. The Foundation against Cancer in of the opinion that plain packaging makes smoking less attractive.  

The plain package rule will be in force for cigarettes, rolling tobacco and pipe tobacco.