Colombian Ministry of Health ("The Ministry") is working on a Resolution Project to adjust the evaluation procedure of labeling and packaging of cigarettes, tobacco and products containing tobacco ("The Products"). In that sense, the object of this communication is to provide a summary of the important aspects of this new project.

The first thing to consider is that this Resolution would apply not only to national manufacturers and marketers, but also to importers of The Products into Colombia, who should include sanitary warning phrases and pictograms in the package of The Products and comply with some advertising regulations.

Regarding the sanitary warning phrases that should be included in the package

The sanitary warnings should be visible at all times; occupy at least the 30% of each of the package's principal surfaces, and the text should be in Spanish in a white background box having a black border (that should measure 0.5 millimeters), with Helvetica type 14 points in black, which must be located parallel to the bottom of the package.

In connection with the pictograms that should be included in the package

The pictograms must be printed in polychrome with indelible ink. Moreover, there must be six (6) warning phrases and six (6) pictograms (each pictogram matching its corresponding warning phrase). The aforementioned printed packs must be equally distributed in all commercial embodiments containing the packs, which must be arranged such that each one appears in an equal number of packages belonging to a family of trademarks.

Prohibitions regarding the packages

Pictograms or health warnings cannot be placed in the transparent wrapping or in any other outer packaging paper.

Also, the packages cannot include any elements that induce or are likely to mislead the consumer regarding The Product's characteristics, health effects or risks. They should not contain descriptive terms or elements, trademarks, figurative signs or any element that may have an direct or indirect effect in creating the false impression that The Products are less harmful than others; nor can it be aimed at minors or suggesting that smoking contributes to athletic or sports success, popularity, professional success, or sexual success.

Stages of the procedure

The Direction of Promotion and Prevention of The Ministry, assisted by the Packaging and Labeling of Tobacco Products Committee, is the responsible of the evaluation of the package and labeling of The Products, before its commercialization, that should include: i) reviewing the sanitary warnings and pictograms; ii) traceability; and iii) reviewing the promotional and advertising elements of the package.

If the package complies with the regulations, The Direction of Promotion and Prevention should approve the product's references.

Next, the stages of the procedure:

  1. Publication of the Sanitary Warnings: The Ministry will publish (on their web page) on November 20, at the latest, the round of sanitary warnings that will be in force during the period from July 21 to July 20 (of the following year).
  2. Information Gathering: The manufacturer or the producer are obligated to inform the corresponding entity (via web – of all the references of products that are going to be sold.
  3. Evaluation: The Direction of Promotion and Prevention has fifteen (15) working days to decide if they approve the content of the package or not.
  4. Adjustments: If the package does not comply with the regulations, the manufacturers or importers will have fifteen (15) working days to make the corresponding adjustments.
  5. Decision: The Direction of Promotion and Prevention has fifteen (15) working days to decide if they approve the content of the package or not. Should the decision not be favorable to the marketers or distributors, a reconsideration action or an appeal against it.

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.