Saudi Arabia has reportedly disclosed its plans to implement plain packaging measures for tobacco products to the World Trade Organization (WTO), joining a list of countries already having such rules in place.

Saudi Arabia did not disclose when the new rules would be rolled out. However, if the said rules are introduced, Saudi Arabia will become the first country in its region to take such a step.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson Paul Garwood said: “There’s no other Gulf country that has implemented plain packaging, and we’re not aware of any other Gulf country looking to implement at the moment.”

Australia is the first country to have introduced plain packaging rules covering tobacco products.

Other countries including Hungary, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Norway and Britain followed Australia’s lead and adopted plain packaging laws.

Several other nations are on course to implement it soon to safeguard public health, including Burkina Faso, Canada, Georgia, Romania, Slovenia, Thailand and Uruguay.

“There’s no other Gulf country that has implemented plain packaging, and we’re not aware of any other Gulf country looking to implement at the moment.”

Earlier this year, a WTO panel ruled in favour of Australian packaging laws, stating that the said laws are contributing to the improvement of public health.

The panel dismissed charges traded by Cuba, Indonesia, Honduras and Dominican Republic that Australia’s laws are inconsistent with the WTO rules.

The petitioners argued that the country’s ban on colourful logos and its standardised drab olive packets violated intellectual property rules and impacted trade.

Responding to the WTO ruling, WHO said it would encourage more countries to enforce stringent packaging laws to curb tobacco consumption.

Although Indonesia and Cuba have accepted the WTO ruling, Honduras and Dominican Republic are appealing against it.

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