Brunei mulls plain tobacco packaging

Delegates making their way to a group photo session during the WHO technical meeting on plain packaging of tobacco products, held at Rizqun International Hotel, Gadong. (Picture: BT/ Rudolf Portillo)

BRUNEI is currently reviewing the pictorial health warnings in use, and is considering amending the size of the health warnings to be carried on tobacco product packagings, the deputy permanent secretary (Professional and Technical) at the Ministry of Health said in her key note address yesterday.

Addressing the participants of the workshop on Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products, Dr Hjh Norlila Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Jalil said that tobacco control in Brunei has been identified as one of the top priorities in its strategic framework of action, the National Health Care plan (2000-2010).

“Through further review of the Ministry of Health’s vision and strategy to move ‘Together Towards a Healthy Nation’, a new strategic framework was also launched in 2010 which further identified tobacco control as pivotal in embracing a healthy lifestyle.”

She highlighted that tobacco has “devastating consequences” not only in terms of its direct impact on health but also on “its indirect impact on the economy and productivity of a country”.

“Tobacco is known to be the leading cause of multiple chronic non-communicable diseases and is the world’s leading preventable cause of death,” she said.

“It affects the economic status of a nation through the cost of treating diseases related to tobacco smoking. This includes costs of treatment, medication, hospital admissions as well as loss of workers’ productivity and loss of income due to inability to work.”

She further said that tobacco killed people at the height of their productivity, depriving families of breadwinners and nations of a healthy working force.

“Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, out of whom, more than five million are users and ex-users.”

“In addition, it also kills more than 600,000 non-smokers who were exposed to second-hand smoke,” she said, adding that unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll resulting from tobacco could rise to more than eight million by 2030.

The “Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products” workshop held at the Rizqun International Hotel was conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Among the objectives of the two-day workshop, was to learn from the pioneering work of Australia as the first country in the world to successfully introduce plain packaging on tobacco products.

The workshop included discussion on the evidence for plain packaging of tobacco products, and reccomended actions to further support plain packaging.

Those present during the workshop comprised experts on tobacco control from the ministries of health, senior policy-makers, legislators and government champions for the ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship; were last night feted to a welcoming dinner.

The dinner was hosted by Health Minister Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof at Jerudong Park Polo & Riding Club.

The Brunei Times

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