Following the current global trend and pursuant to the obligations Paraguay assumed with the signing and ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in December 2015 a new law was sanctioned regulating different aspects of the consumption and advertisement of tobacco and tobacco products, as well as an increase in the applicable tax. The objective of such piece of legislation is the establishment of the measures necessary for the protection of human health with respect to the health, social, environmental and economic consequences that may derive from the consumption of tobacco and the exposure to the smoke produced by tobacco products, for example, the reduction in the consumption of tobacco products, regulation of contents of tobacco products as well as their advertisement, labelling and packaging, among other.

For such objectives, various measures regarding the sales/commercialization, advertisement, labelling, packaging, etc., have been introduced, which are briefly summarized below:

  • Sales: Sales or provision of tobacco products shall be carried-out directly and personally only, meaning that tobacco products cannot be sold by mail, telephone, or other electronic means. The products can only be sold at the cash registers or in sales points within the commercial establishments specially set up for such purpose, by which they cannot be freely available to the consumers among the other products.

    In addition, tobacco products cannot be sold in certain places, such as hospitals or other health centers, educational establishments, among other examples. And they cannot be sold to children or teenagers.
  • Non-smoking places: Smoking (even smoking of electronic cigarettes) is prohibited in certain places, such as primary and middle schools, public transport (namely buses, airplanes, ships) as well as the enclosed spaces of their respective terminals, theaters, movie theaters or other public activities premises, hospital and health institutions, indoor areas of working places (offices, mines, factories, workshops), places where explosive or inflammable materials/articles, food and medicines are manufactured, processed, stored or manipulated, supermarkets and shopping centers, pubs, restaurants, bars, discos, among others. In all areas where smoking is, warning, non-smoking signs shall be placed, in Spanish and in Guarani.
  • Association of tobacco products with other product trademarks: "Extension of tobacco trademarks" or "common use of tobacco trademarks" (the association of a tobacco brand with a non-tobacco brand) is strictly prohibited by the Law.
  • Advertisement and Promotion of Tobacco Products: Publicity, advertisement, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products by all means of communication (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, mobile phone, internet, mailing propaganda and advertising signs) is strictly prohibited according to the Law, with the exception of publicity carried out within the store, shop or sales point where the products themselves are offered.
  • Labelling and Packaging of Tobacco Products: With respect to the labelling and packaging of tobacco products, the Law establishes that health messages and warnings describing the harmful effects caused by tobacco shall be written on every box, package, parcel or container of tobacco products. Such warnings shall be placed in the external sides or main areas displayed and shall contain the warning message to be approved by the Ministry of Health in clear, visible and colored letters, in both Spanish and Guarani.

    Other compulsory measures regarding labelling and packaging of tobacco products include: the fact that health warnings need be printed on the external packaging or labelling of the products directly, that they shall be visible at all times, and that the messages shall be rotatory. The tobacco industry was granted a time frame of six months to bring its packaging/labelling into compliance with the law.

    It should also be highlighted that according to the law, misleading or deceptive information/advertisement related to tobacco products is strictly prohibited, for example, by utilization of terms such as "light," "ultra-light," etc.
  • Other measures: Include an increase in the Excise Tax to be paid for tobacco products (from 10% to 20%), the authority in charge of legal application, sanctions, etc.

All in all, although this new law is not as stringent as other regulations regarding tobacco products in several parts of the world – Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and even the European Union – several of its provisions still greatly undermine the rights accorded to individuals and corporations with respect to the use and promotion of their intellectual property rights accorded by the National Constitution and by the Trademark Law, as well as the right to free competition and free trade.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.