FCTC Article 11: Packaging and Labeling of Tobacco Products

From TobaccoUnmasked

Article 11 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends measures to prohibit misleading packaging and labeling of tobacco products.[1]

Guiding Principles[1]

(a) Tobacco product packaging and labeling should not;

  • promote the product by any means that are false or misleading.
  • include any term, descriptor, trademark, figure or any other sign that directly or indirectly creates the false impression that a particular tobacco product is less harmful than other tobacco products. These may include terms such as “low tar”, “light”, “ultra-light”, or “mild”;

(b) Pictorial health warnings in Tobacco packaging is one of the most effective ways of reducing tobacco consumption. Each unit packet and package of tobacco products may carry health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use, and may include other appropriate messages.

These warnings and messages
  • Should be approved by the competent national authority,
  • Should be large, clear, visible and legible,
  • Should be 50% or more of the principal display areas but should be no less than 30% of the principal display areas,
  • Should include pictures or pictograms.

(c) Each unit packet and package of tobacco products and any outside packaging and labeling of such products should contain;

  • information on relevant constituents and emissions of tobacco products as defined by national authorities. This has to be done in addition to the warnings specified in paragraph 1(b) of this Article
  • Those messages should be in the country’s principal language(s).

For the purposes of this Article, the term “outside packaging and labeling” in relation to tobacco products applies to any packaging and labeling used in the retail sale of the product.


Tobacco packaging is the most direct line of communication to the consumer. So graphic, pictorial health warnings are an essential component of any comprehensive strategy to reduce tobacco use. This reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, minimizes misleading packaging and enhances the effectiveness of health warnings. [1]


According to the treaty each Party of the convention should adopt and implement effective measures to prohibit misleading tobacco packaging and labeling within three years of entry into the force.

An online resource containing 43 pictorial health warning label images covering four broad categories (smoking health harms; secondhand smoke exposure; cigarette contents and toxic emissions; and socioeconomic consequences of tobacco use), with accompanying text in either English or French, have been developed for use in sub-Saharan African countries. The images and text are designed to meet specific needs of countries in the WHO African Region, including consideration of sub regional cultural contexts and language variations, and were extensively field tested across sub-Saharan Africa to ensure their effectiveness.

Plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products is one tobacco control intervention that is beginning to be implemented. In December 2012, Australia became the first country to implement plain packaging on all tobacco products. By 2016 an increasing number of countries are taking this step. Ireland, the United Kingdom and France all passed legislation in 2015 to implement plain packaging. The intervention is also under active consideration in a number of countries, including Burkina Faso, Chile, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Singapore, South Africa and Turkey.

Implementation - Sri Lanka

According to the section 34 of National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Act, No. 27 of 2006 it is prohibited on the sale of tobacco products without health warning and the tar, nicotine content in each tobacco product. Different dimensions may be prescribed in respect of packets of different sizes. The pictorial warnings covering 80 per cent of cigarette packs was unanimously passed in Sri Lankan Parliament in 2015. According to the Bill, any person who contravenes the provisions is liable to either a one year imprisonment or a fine of Rs. 50,000 or both.[2]

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

Other relevant TobaccoUnmasked entries:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 World Health Organization. Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 2005, accessed March 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2015.World Health Organization, 2015, accessed March, 2017