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SINGAPORE: Tobacco Plain Packaging Law Becomes Effective July 2020

Since the introduction of measures regarding standardized packaging for all tobacco products by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) in October 2018, and the passing of the amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act in March 2019, the MOH has introduced a subsidiary legislation to implement the new packaging and labeling requirements for all tobacco products in Singapore. The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Appearance, Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2019 were published July 1, 2019, (SP Regulations) and will come into operation 12 months from that date.

Thus, all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, beedies, and other roll-your-own tobacco products sold in Singapore, must have standardized packaging and enlarged graphic health warnings (SP Measures) from July 1, 2020, onwards. Manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers may face a jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of up to S$10,000 (US $7,235), should they fail to conform to the new law as first-time offenders. Repeat offenders will face heavier penalties.

SP Regulations and SP Measures mandate that logos, colors, images, and any promotional information associated with the brand are not allowed on the packaging. Product and brand names will instead be presented in a standardized font style and color. The minimum size of graphic health warnings (such as warnings about gum disease) on packaging will be increased from the current 50 percent to 75 percent of the packaging surface.

A three-month transition period will be provided from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, to allow tobacco products that comply with either the current Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Labelling) Regulations 2012 or the SP Regulations to be imported into, or distributed, sold, offered for sale, or possessed for sale in Singapore. The transition period will help tobacco manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to prepare for the full implementation of the SP Regulations from July 1, 2020, onward.

Singapore’s objective is to reduce the prevalence of smoking as per its obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The SP Measures 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, in the hopes that this will ultimately lead toward reducing the prevalence of smoking.

By: Denise Mirandah

This article first appeared in the INTA Bulletin Vol 74, No. 14. For more information please visit http://www.inta.org/INTABulletin/Pages/INTABulletin.aspx