Tobacco product packaging to be standardised from July 1

All logos, colours, images and promotional information on the packaging of tobacco products should be removed. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF HEALTH

SINGAPORE - All tobacco products sold in Singapore will be subject to standardised packaging from Wednesday (July 1).

The packaging will include enlarged graphic health warnings, and will apply to all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, beedies, ang hoon and other roll-your-own tobacco products, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday (June 29).

These packaging measures, first announced on Oct 31, 2018, are part of a multi-pronged approach aimed mainly at discouraging non-smokers from picking up smoking, encouraging smokers to quit, and encouraging Singaporeans to adopt a tobacco-free lifestyle, which will ultimately lead to reduced smoking prevalence, said MOH.

As part of the new regulations taking effect from Wednesday, all logos, colours, images and promotional information on the packaging of tobacco products should be removed.

Mandatory graphic health warnings on such products must also cover at least 75 per cent of surfaces, up from the current 50 per cent.

All tobacco products imported into, distributed, sold, offered for sale or possessed for sale in Singapore must comply with the new packaging regulations.

Non-compliance is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000, jail of up to six months, or both, for first-time offenders.

Those with a prior qualifying conviction will face heavier penalties.

MOH noted that a year's notice was given to tobacco manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers to adjust and prepare for the new measures.

This included a three-month transition period from April 1 to June 30 this year, when tobacco products with standardised packaging were imported into Singapore and distributed to retailers.

Letters and e-mail circulars were also issued by The Health Sciences Authority to remind tobacco licensees of the packaging regulations, and their obligation to fulfil them, said MOH.

Dr Clive Tan, council member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore's College of Public Health and Occupational Physicians, said that while plain packaging is unlikely to deter existing smokers for whom smoking is a habit, some cigarettes may lose their strong branding, and may be forced to compete on price.

"(This) lowers the profitability of the company's product, (and) is still an effective weapon against the big tobacco conglomerates," he said.

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