Health warning labels on Brunei cigarette packs to be Asia’s biggest

Health warning labels on Brunei cigarette packs to be Asia’s biggest

Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE increase in size of health warning labels on tobacco products from 50 to 75 per cent will make graphic health warnings on cigarette packs in Brunei the largest in Asia.

This was said by Dr Mary Assunta Kolandai, Director of the International Tobacco Control Project of the Cancer Council Australia, and policy development advisor of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), yesterday in her presentation at the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) World No Tobacco Day.

The event was held at the Health Promotion Centre (HPC), Berakas.

“I want to say a big congratulations to Brunei Darussalam for enacting the largest graphic health warnings on cigarette packs in Asia,” said Dr Mary.

“The moment Brunei made the announcement in March (2012), I had several tobacco control advocates from around the world contact me asking how they can get hold of the legislation,” she said.

“So yes, there was international interest in Brunei’s advancement in tobacco control and the 75 per cent pictorial warnings are now among the largest in the world.”

Dr Mary also said that Brunei stands as a “shining jewel” among ASEAN countries in illustrating what can be achieved for tobacco control in a relatively short period of time.

“As I travelled to Brunei, introduction to your tobacco control measures starts in the aircraft itself with the announcement that not just smoking of cigarettes is prohibited but also smoking of electronic cigarettes,” said Dr Mary.

“No doubt, the tobacco industry would have presented some challenges when Brunei started to make the necessary preparations to enact the legislation,” said Dr Mary.

“They (the tobacco industry) usually do that when countries start to apply prominent, effective graphic health warnings on cigarette packs,” said Dr Mary.

In the ASEAN region, it was observed that there were many challenges posed by the tobacco industry including trying to delay Tobacco Control laws, fighting tobacco tax increase, diluting bans on tobacco advertising sponsorship and promotions, Dr Mary explained.

Other challenges include challenging 100 per cent smoke-free policies in public and work places and fighting product regulation such as banning flavouring used in tobacco, Dr Mary continued to explain.

“The measures the industry fights the hardest are pack display bans and of course plain packaging. It is taking governments to court over these two measures,” said Dr Mary.

“I see a natural progression for Brunei to apply plain packaging of cigarettes as the next step. Reducing accessibility of tobacco through licensing and reducing retail outlets would help in reducing consumption,” said Dr Mary.

“On the trade front, Brunei is currently involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, proposing a “carve out” of tobacco from free trade would go a long way in putting health before trade,” said Dr Mary.

In a report by The Brunei Times, March 17, 2012, at the Eighth Legislative Council (LegCo), the health minister spoke of two amendments to the Tobacco Order 2005 which was consented by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

The first amendment, (Tobacco (Prohibition in Certain Places) (Amendment) Notification, 2012) was enforced on March 1, 2012.

This was to increase the effectiveness of enforcement in reducing the risk factor of smoking, particularly concerning public health and the environment and sees to the addition of non-smoking zones.

The other amendment, (Tobacco (Labelling) (Amendment) Regulations, 2012), will be enforced on September 1, 2012.

The purpose of the second amendment is to enhance the effectiveness of health warnings by increasing the percentage of its surface area, where health warning labels on tobacco products will increase in size from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. – Nurhamiza Hj Roslan

The Brunei Times

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