Bangkok, 4 March 2016: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance lauds Myanmar’s Ministry of Health’s (MOH) new regulation to implement 75% pictorial or graphic health warnings (GHW) on tobacco packaging that visually depict the health harms of tobacco use.
“Implementing graphic health warnings in Myanmar is another excellent step to protect public health as more and more countries are moving towards the same direction. Myanmar will be the 9th country in the ASEAN to implement graphic health warnings,” said SEATCA Executive Director, Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee.
44.8% of Myanmar men smoke and tobacco use remains to be a major public health issue in Myanmar. Every year, 54,600 people die of preventable tobacco-related diseases.
“Research shows that effective warning labels increase knowledge about risks associated with smoking and can influence future decisions about smoking. Large, graphic warnings are the most cost-effective means to inform smokers and non-smokers about the health hazards of smoking, to encourage quit attempts and to discourage smoking initiation. Graphic warnings also decrease the attractiveness and appeal of cigarettes and counter the alluring and persuasive images that tobacco companies use to promote their products. They can also be recognized easily by two vulnerable population groups – the poor and the children,” said Dr. May Myat Cho, SEATCA’s Myanmar tobacco control coordinator.
“Graphic warnings coupled with raising tobacco excise taxes, enforcing a comprehensive national smoke-free law and a ban on tobacco advertising and promotion are small investments that will reap enormous dividends in health and prosperity,” she added.
75% GHW with text description to appear on both front and back of principal display areas of tobacco packs in Myanmar is a great initiative by the MOH and a great investment in health for Myanmar’s people. According to MOH’s notification, the tobacco industry has to comply by 1 September 2016.
Myanmar ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2004 and adopted it in its national legislation to reduce tobacco use in 2006. As a party to the international health treaty, it is required to implement effective packaging and labeling measures for tobacco products within three years of ratification. Delays in its health-warning policies are due to aggressive opposition by the tobacco industry and its allies.
Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Officer – SEATCA
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