Bangkok, 5 July 2019: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) warmly welcomes the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) announcement of the implementation date for standardized tobacco packaging in Singapore, making it the second Asian country to implement this important tobacco control measure.
Following parliamentary approval in February 2019, this gazettement of Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Appearance, Packaging, and Labelling) Regulations 2019 (SP Regulations) requires that all tobacco products (including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, beedies, ang hoon and other roll-your-own tobacco products) sold in Singapore must be fully compliant starting 1 July 2020.
The SP Regulations require that all tobacco products be packaged in a standardized size, shape, and drab brown color, free of any logos or images; only brand names will be allowed in a standardized font type, size, color, and location. The current 50% size of graphic health warnings will also be increased to 75% of the package surface.
“This is a major tobacco control milestone in the ASEAN region and in Asia at large that other countries must emulate,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA.
Standardized packaging, first mandated by Australia in 2012, is considered the gold standard for packaging and labelling of tobacco products, because it reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, increases the effectiveness of graphic health warnings, and reduces the ability of tobacco packaging to mislead consumers about tobacco’s many harmful effects.
A post-implementation national survey among adult smokers in Australia found that more smokers noticed graphic health warnings and attributed their motivation to quit to the warnings, while another study showed sustained reduction in visible smoking, suggesting that plain packaging may be changing norms about smoking in public.
Singapore joins 15 other countries that require standardized tobacco packaging, namely Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, Hungary, New Zealand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Canada, Uruguay, Slovenia, Belgium, and Israel. At least 13 other countries are in varying stages of introducing standardized packaging laws. On 10 September 2019, Thailand will be the first Asian country to enforce standardized packaging for tobacco products.
Acknowledging the effectiveness of standardized packaging to reduce smoking, the tobacco industry reacted by suing Australia, France, Norway, the UK, and the EU, but failed in all its legal challenges. In June 2018, a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel upheld Australia’s plain packaging law as being consistent with international trade and intellectual property laws.
“In implementating this life-saving measure contained in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Singapore and Thailand are exemplars to their neighboring ASEAN countries,” said Dorotheo.
Articles 11 (Packaging and labelling) and 13 (Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) of the FCTC recommend that Parties should consider adopting plain packaging to eliminate advertising or promotion, including design features that make tobacco products attractive.
Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA
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- Cigarette packs to be sold in standardized plain packaging in Singapore from July 1, 2020 –
- Standardized or Plain Packaging: Scientific Evidence –
- Plain packaging of tobacco products: evidence, design and implementation –
- Standardized or plain packaging: international developments –
SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.