The Non-Communicable Diseases Task Force focusing on Tobacco Control was established to determine whether plain packaging legislation for all types of tobacco products is a viable tobacco control measure in India. The Task Force is composed of experts in the field from both countries. They presented a summary of tobacco control’s short history and plain packaging’s significance at the Australia India Institute’s Asian Century conference in Kolkata on 6 December 2011.
A literature review is currently being conducted to synthesise the history of pictorial health warnings and product packaging of tobacco in India, and to compare it to the process Australia took to successfully develop plain packaging legislation. Potential challenges and roadblocks will be highlighted, particularly given that this kind of policy change has to occur in the environment of a global market economy governed by bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Market research on plain packaging will also be conducted in New Delhi (the first of its kind) in the form of focus group discussions, a stakeholder analysis and an opinion poll, to ascertain the acceptability and potential effectiveness of plain packaged tobacco products in India. The results will be included in a comprehensive policy paper.
The Task Force plans to launch this policy document on World No Tobacco Day on May 31 2012 in parallel with several high-level events that will bring together experts and advocates from both countries.