Plain Cigarette Packaging Starts September

Local Ottawa high school students look at plain cigarette packaging examples, on World No Tobacco Day, prior to meeting with Minister of Health Jane Philpott in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Philpott officially launched public consultations on plain packaging requirements for tobacco products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Tobacco companies have started complying with Thailand’s Standardised Packaging Regulation two weeks ahead of the required deadline.  The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEEATCA) is commending Thailand in being the first country in the ASEAN Region and Asia to usher in standardised tobacco packaging.

Starting September 12th with a 90 day full phase-out of old cigarette stocks by December 12th, all cigarettes in Thailand must be sold in drab brown-coloured packs with cigarette brand names printed in a standardised font type, size, colour, and location, without brand colours or logos.

The new standardised packaging complements Thailand’s pictorial health warnings, which occupy the upper 85% of the front and back panels of packs, currently the largest in ASEAN.

“We congratulate the Thai government for this important public health milestone and urge the Ministry of Public Health to strictly monitor compliance and impose penalties on tobacco companies that do not abide by the new law,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA.

Standardised 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.

More importantly, this also reduces youth initiation to tobacco use by restricting the tobacco industry’s ability to market to young people, encourages quitting among current tobacco users, and helps prevent ex-users from relapsing.

Thailand joins 15 other countries that already require standardised tobacco packaging, namely Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, Hungary, New Zealand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Canada, Uruguay, Slovenia, Belgium, and Israel.

At least 13 other countries are in varying stages of introducing standardized packaging laws.

Singapore will be the second ASEAN country to implement this important tobacco control measure. Its Tobacco Regulations 2019 that require that all tobacco products (including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, beedies, ang hoon and other roll-your-own tobacco products) to fully comply with standardised packaging starting July 1st 2020.

“Implementing this life-saving measure contained in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Singapore and Thailand have blazed a path that neighbouring ASEAN countries must follow,” said Dr Dorotheo.