Bangkok, 19 December 2018: Starting 10 September 2019 all cigarette products in Thailand will be sold in plain or standardized packaging. All cigarette products will be sold in drab brown-colored packs, and cigarette brand names will be printed in a standardized font type, size, color, and location, without brand colors or logos. The new packaging requirements will complement Thailand’s pictorial health warnings, which are currently the largest in ASEAN.
Published in the official gazette on 14 December 2018, Thailand’s Standardized Packaging Regulation will take effect after 270 days (on 10 September 2019) with a 90-day full phase-out of old cigarette stocks by 8 December 2019. Together with the standardized packaging, the government will introduce a new set of 10 pictorial health warnings on the upper 85 percent of the front and back panels of packs and 10 new textual warnings, covering 60 percent of the sides of the pack.
“The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) congratulates Thailand for this milestone and for bringing this tobacco packaging global standard to Asia. Standardized packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, eliminates tobacco packaging as a form of advertising, and increases the noticeability and effectiveness of pictorial health warnings,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA. “This also reduces the tobacco industry’s ability to market to young people who have not started using tobacco, supports adult tobacco users who want to quit, and helps prevent ex-users from relapsing.”
The new regulation fulfills the Tobacco Products Control Act passed in March 2017 by the Thai National Legislative Assembly. Other important measures in the Act include a ban on tobacco-related corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, a ban on single stick sales, raising to 20 years the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes, requiring the industry to report marketing activities, and increasing the penalty for smoking in prohibited areas from THB 2,000 to THB 5,000.
“This is a landmark development for tobacco control in Asia, and we encourage Thailand to stay strong in the strict implementation of the law. This new regulation will not only help the more than 10 million Thai smokers to quit but more importantly stop children from being addicted to tobacco. We look forward to more Asian countries following Thailand’s strategic action to protect public health.” said Dorotheo.
In October, Singapore announced its plan to include standardized packaging in amendments to its Tobacco Control of Advertisements and Sale Act in 2019. In 2012, Australia was the first country in the world to mandate plain packaging. Since then, ten other countries, namely, France, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Uruguay, Slovenia, Mauritius, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, have also introduced plain packaging laws, and at least 15 other jurisdictions are formally considering the same.
Implementation guidelines for Article 11 (Packaging and labelling) and 13 (Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control recommend that Parties should consider adopting plain packaging to eliminate advertising or promotion, including design features that make products attractive.
Standardized or Plain Packaging: Scientific Evidence – https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/global/pdfs/en/plain_packaging_evidence_en.pdf
Plain packaging of tobacco products: evidence, design and implementation – http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/207478/9789241565226_eng.pdf?sequence=1
The Tobacco Control Atlas: ASEAN Region, Fourth Edition –
https://seatca.org/dmdocuments/SEATCA Tobacco Control Atlas ASEAN Region 4th Ed Sept 2018.pdf
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.