After conducting an “extensive process” of review, research and several rounds of public consultations, MOH has directed all tobacco manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to conform to standardised packaging and enlarged graphic health warning requirements beginning Jul 1, 2020 or face jail time and a fine of up to S$10,000 if their products are found to violate the said standardised packaging guidelines.
This was disclosed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) through a press release on Monday (Jul 1) that these requirements – collectively referred to as the SP measure – will apply to all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, beedies, “ang hoon” and other roll-your-own tobacco products.
The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Appearance, Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2019 (SP Regulations) was published on Jul 1, 2019 and will take effect on Jul 1, 2020.
The requisites laid out in the SP regulations explicitly specifies all logos, colours, images and promotional information on the packaging of tobacco products to be removed, except the brand names and variant names, which are to be displayed in a standard colour and font size.
The regulations also include an increase in the minimum size of the mandatory graphic health warnings from the existing 50% to 75% of all specified tobacco product packaging surfaces.
From July 2020, non-compliance with the SP regulations is an offence punishable by law with a fine of up to S$10,000, up to six months’ jail, or both, for first offenders.
MOH further said that those who have a prior qualifying conviction will face stiffer penalties.
According to MOH, tobacco manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are given a 3-month transition period — Apr 1, 2020 to Jun 30, 2020 — so that they can acclimatise themselves and prepare for the full implementation of the SP Measure.
The transition period will allow tobacco products that comply with either the current regulations or the SP regulations to be imported into, distributed or sold in Singapore.
“The SP measure for tobacco products will, in conjunction with other tobacco control measures, contribute to achieving broader tobacco control aims such as 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.
MOH added that other tobacco control measures have been implemented, including “education, taxation, smoking cessation programmes, bans on tobacco advertising, the point-of-sale display ban and the institution of a minimum legal age for tobacco.”
The said measures will minimise the high-incidence of smoking in Singapore, and for Singapore to meet its obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, MOH said.-/TISG