Singapore Budget 2015: MOH may standardise packaging for cigarettes, ban display of tobacco products at cashiers

SINGAPORE - A public consultation on the standardised packaging of tobacco products - plain boxes with graphic health warnings - will be carried out at the end of 2015, said Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Thursday.

If implemented, tobacco products will get the same plain packaging and have any promotional aspects - like trademarks, logos, colour schemes and images - removed. But the mandatory health warnings will remain.

The objective is to decrease the appeal of cigarettes and other tobacco products, and increase the visibility of health warnings.

Australia is the only country to have implemented standardised packaging, which it did on Dec 1, 2012. New Zealand, Ireland, France and the United Kingdom have also announced their intention to introduce such packaging.

Associate Professor Faishal announced the public consultation as one of several tobacco control measures, in the debate on the Health Ministry's budget. The Government will continue to help smokers quit through health campaigns. His ministry will also push to ban point-of-sale displays of tobacco products, like cigarettes at a cashier, later this year.

New and emerging tobacco products that appeal to the youth may also be banned, he said. In a statement, the Health Ministry highlighted that some countries have prohibited the sale of tobacco for oral use, while others have prohibited electronic cigarettes.

Shisha - one such emerging product - was banned in Singapore in November 2014, "to prevent its proliferation and entrenchment in Singapore."

"We intend to do the same for other types of emerging tobacco products later this year."

Associate Professor Faishal also told Parliament: "I would very much like to hear your views."

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