ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH FOUNDATION
Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, has received full support worldwide for increasing the size of pictorial health warning (PHW) on cigarette pack to 85% aiming to decrease tobacco consumption. ASH Thailand confirmed that the regulation will not violate Trademark Law as claimed by the Tobacco Industry.
Prof. Dr. Prakit Vathesatogkit, Executive Secretary, ASH Thailand revealed that many prominent public health organizations from 10 countries have sent letters of support and appreciation to Minister of Public Health for his approval of the regulation to increase size of pictorial health warning on cigarette pack from 55% to 85% in order to discourage new smokers; particularly, teenagers from taking up smoking. Cigarette is not an ordinary but highly addictive product which harms users and the people surrounding them. Annually, more than 50,000 Thai people die due to smoking-related diseases.
“According to Ministry of Health’s announcement, the size of PHWs covers 85% of the cigarette pack while allocating the remaining 15% for cigarette trademark. However, this regulation is different from Australia’s regulation which is considered as the most effective regulation because the cigarette trademark cannot be printed on the pack. The tobacco producers can print only cigarette brand name with color and font size as defined by the government” said Prof. Dr. Prakit.
Presently, several tobacco trade-related organizations are opposing the new PHWs regulation and have sent petition letters to the Prime Minister with the allegation that 85% PHWs regulation violates the Trademark Law as well as harm tobacco farmers. Prof. Dr. Prakit defended by stating that this is a misinformation campaign secretly conducted by tobacco industry to oppose the regulation. The industry does not want to be seen as opposing the tobacco control measures; they then established Thai Tobacco Trade Association (TTTA) last year as well as employed a law firm to speak for them.
In Uruguay, the regulation requiring 80% PHWs was implemented since 2009 and no country has sent any petition to World Trade Organization (WTO) that such regulation violates the Trademark Law or the Intellectual Property Law. Therefore, the movement by tobacco industry, trademark and intellectual property organizations to intimidate Thai government and Ministry of Public Health is just a hollow threat because there is no evidence that the regulation violates any Trademark Law.
The Minister of Public Health signed the Ministry’s Order on this matter in March 8, 2013.
“I would like to ask all parties to support our Minister of Public Health to withstand the pressure from tobacco industry front groups. If the announcement will be halted or delayed, the Thai government will lose its credibility to the public as protecting trans-national tobacco industry over the health of Thai people.” said Prof. Dr. Prakit.
Contact Persons: Prof. Dr. Prakit Vathesatogkit, Executive Secretary, ASH Thailand,