In 2016, IGTC conducted a study that examined compliance with Uruguay’s requirement that tobacco companies only have one package design per brand. Cigarette packs were collected from, Montevideo, the capital and most populated city in the country. In Montevideo, packs were collected from a sample of 25 economically and socially diverse neighborhoods. Data collectors followed a systematic walking protocol and purchased one of every unique cigarette pack from tobacco vendors in each neighborhood. Data collectors purchased a total of 56 unique cigarette packs that represented 30 different tobacco brands.
Packs were coded for pack attributes such as brand name, color, logo, descriptors, stick count, and packaging type (e.g. soft, hard, tin).
Tobacco companies use varying colors, flavors, designs, descriptors and names on cigarette packaging to create positive connotations and retain and recruit customers. Packaging can mislead consumers to think that some cigarettes are less harmful than others1. In 2008, Uruguay passed a requirement that limits each tobacco brand to having a single package design2. This requirement was implemented in February 2009. In 2010, Philip Morris initiated a lawsuit that alleged the single presentation requirement, as well as the country’s requirement to print large graphic health warnings on packs, violated the Bilateral Investment Treaty with Switzerland3. In July 2016, the arbitration panel of the World Bank ruled against Philip Morris3. To date, Uruguay is the only country that has a single presentation requirement.
Study results can be accessed at:
Dr. Joanna Cohen holds the Bloomberg Professorship of Disease Prevention at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; this work was supported by the professorship endowment.