Uruguay Becomes First Country in Latin America to Adopt Plain Packaging

Statement from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union)
January 16, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Uruguay has become the first country in Latin America to require plain packaging for tobacco products following the president’s signature of the legislation on December 21, 2018. The new measure is a significant win for public health in Uruguay and should spur more countries in Latin America to adopt this life-saving measure.

Plain packaging for tobacco products mandates that products are sold in drab brown packaging, free of designs, logos and promotional elements historically used by tobacco companies to attract new smokers. Tobacco companies will be given one year to comply with Uruguay’s new law.

Uruguay joins more than a dozen countries worldwide that have adopted plain packaging laws to help drive down smoking rates and is the first country in Latin America to do so. Chile, Panama, Ecuador and Brazil, which are considering cigarette packaging bills, should follow Uruguay’s example and move swiftly to approve and implement plain packaging. Other countries including Australia, the U.K., France, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway have already implemented plain packaging and governments in many other countries are considering the measure.

With the introduction of proven tobacco control policies like 100 percent smoke-free laws, graphic health warnings, higher tobacco taxes and advertising bans, Uruguay has already reduced tobacco use among youth by 65 percent and 28 percent among adults. Plain packaging will increase this enormous progress. In Australia, following the implementation of plain packaging and other tobacco control measures, smoking rates dropped at the fastest pace in more than two decades.

According to the World Health Organization tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year. Without urgent action tobacco use will claim one billion lives this century.