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Fine, jail for tobacco sellers who flout packaging rule from July 2020

SINGAPORE — Tobacco manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers may face jail time and a fine of up to S$10,000 if their products do not conform to standardised packaging and enlarged graphic health warning requirements from Jul 1, 2020.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in 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.

MOH previously announced its decision to implement the SP measure in October 2018, following an “extensive process” of review, research and several rounds of public consultations, it said.

Following the passage of amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act in March 2019, MOH said that it is introducing subsidiary legislation to implement the SP measure.

The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Appearance, Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2019 (SP Regulations) were published on July 1, 2019 and will come into operation on July 1, 2020 — 12 months after being gazetted.

The requirements set out in the SP regulations include the removal of all logos, colours, images and promotional information on the packaging of tobacco products, 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 per cent to 75 per cent of all specified tobacco product packaging surfaces.

From July 2020, non-compliance with the SP regulations is an offence punishable with a fine up to S$10,000, up to six months’ jail, or both, for first offenders.

Those with a prior qualifying conviction will face heavier penalties, MOH said.

THREE-MONTH TRANSITION PERIOD A three-month transition period from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020 will be provided to help tobacco manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to adjust and prepare for the full implementation of the SP Measure, MOH said.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," MOH said.

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".MOH said these measures will reduce the prevalence of smoking in Singapore, and meet the Government’s obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

This article originally appeared at the Today Online website


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