PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON STANDARDISED PACKAGING AND ENLARGED GRAPHIC HEALTH WARNINGS FOR TOBACCO PRODUCTS

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will be holding a public consultation to seek views from the public on the proposal to introduce standardised packaging of tobacco products together with enlarged graphic health warnings (collectively, the Standardised Packaging Proposal) in Singapore. The public consultation will take place for six weeks, from 5 February[1] to 16 March 2018.

2. The Standardised Packaging Proposal, if adopted, will be part of Singapore’s tobacco control strategy.

Continued Enhancements to Tobacco Control Measures

3. Tobacco use continues to be a significant public health concern, and reducing tobacco use is critical in Singapore’s fight to secure more years of good health for Singaporeans. Singapore’s public health objectives include moving towards a tobacco-free society. Since the 1970s, Singapore has introduced many measures and initiatives as part of a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to tobacco control. These include measures to control tobacco sales and advertising, and public education initiatives on the harms of tobacco use. As a result of these efforts, smoking rates in Singapore fell from 23% in 1977 to 19% in 1984, and further to 12.6% in 2004.

4. However, in recent years, the rate of decline in smoking rates has been harder to sustain. The smoking rates have been fluctuating between 12% and 14% in the last 10 years, with no clear pattern of continuous decline. A particular concern is the fact that there remains a sizable proportion of men (more than 1 in 5) who smoke daily. Another concern is the exposure of under-aged youths to smoking and to tobacco advertising, even though the minimum legal age for smoking and the purchase of tobacco is to rise from 18 to 21 years by 2021.

The Standardised Packaging Proposal

5. Standardised packaging, also known as plain packaging, generally refers to the: (a) strict regulation of promotional aspects of tobacco packaging (e.g. trademarks, logos, colour schemes and imagery); and (b) standardisation of packaging elements. The standardised packaging measure is often accompanied by the requirement to incorporate prominent mandatory health warnings on the packaging.

6. The key elements of Singapore’s Standardised Packaging Proposal are:

(a) Regulating the promotional aspects of tobacco packaging;

(b) Standardising tobacco packaging elements; and

(c) Increasing the size of graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging from 50% to 75%.

7. After careful consideration of the evidence for and against the effectiveness of the Standardised Packaging Proposal as well as the feedback received in relation to the Standardised Packaging Proposal to-date, it is the Government’s preliminary assessment that introducing the Standardised Packaging Proposal in Singapore would:

? Be an effective measure to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products;

? Be an effective measure to eliminate the effects of tobacco packaging as a form of advertising and promotion;

? Be effective in reducing the ability of tobacco packaging to mislead about the harmful effects of smoking;

? Be an effective means of increasing the noticeability and effectiveness of graphic health warnings; and

? Better inform smokers and non-smokers of the risks associated with tobacco use.

8. Accordingly, it is the Government’s preliminary assessment that the Standardised Packaging Proposal would, alongside other existing and future tobacco control measures, operate to contribute towards meeting the Government’s obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, promote public health through the reduction of the prevalence of smoking in Singapore and thereby constitute a significant step towards Singapore becoming a tobacco-free society.

Public Consultation Exercise

9. MOH would like to invite the public to contribute their views and feedback on the Standardised Packaging Proposal. The public consultation paper sets out:

? The Government’s rationale and proposal for the Standardised Packaging Proposal; and

? The Government’s evaluation of the feedback and views on standardised packaging and enlargement of graphic health warnings.

10. The public consultation paper can be found on REACH at www.reach.gov.sg and on MOH’s website at www.moh.gov.sg/proposed-tobacco-control-measures[2]. Feedback and comments on the consultation paper can be submitted in electronic or hard copy, with the subject or header Public Consultation on Proposal to Introduce Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products in Singapore, to:

(a) By Post: Ministry of Health

16 College Road

College of Medicine Building

Singapore 169854

Attention: Director, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division

(b) By Email: tobacco_control@moh.gov.sg

Further details on the submission of feedback can be found in the consultation paper.

11. All feedback should reach MOH by 16 March 2018. All responses received by the closing date will be considered and factored into the Government’s final decision on whether to introduce the Standardised Packaging Proposal in Singapore.

Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore

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