The Union congratulates Singapore for adopting plain packaging of tobacco products

Singapore has adopted plain packaging of tobacco products, which is implemented with immediate effect today, 1 July 2020. The new measure will restrict the use of logos, colours, images or other promotional information associated with the tobacco brand on all types of tobacco products sold in Singapore. Product and brand names will be allowed in a standardised font style and colour.

The Ministry of Health Singapore stated that the measure will contribute to achieving broader tobacco control goals in the country by discouraging non-smokers and children from taking up smoking, encouraging current smokers to quit, and promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle which will ultimately lead to reduced smoking prevalence.

“The Union welcomes the implementation of plain packaging in Singapore and commends all the measures that Singapore has already taken in tobacco control,” said Dr Tara Singh Bam, Deputy Director of the Asia Pacific region at The Union. “Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products to consumers, increases the noticeability and effectiveness of health warnings, and reduces the ability of the tobacco product and its packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking.”

According to data from the Singapore Ministry of Health, smoking prevalence in 2019 was 10.6 percent. Although this number is relatively low compared with other countries in the region, smoking is the country’s second highest contributor to diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and killed an estimated 2,073 people in 2016. Furthermore, smoking directly costs Singapore at least US $600 million a year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

To reduce the prevalence of smoking in Singapore, the country already implements other tobacco control measures include education, taxation, smoking cessation programmes, bans on tobacco advertising and point-of-sale displays, and imposes a minimum legal age for tobacco – meeting the government’s obligations under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Mayor Bima Arya of Bogor City, Indonesia, who is also Co-chair of the Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Tobacco Control and NCDs Prevention (APCAT), congratulated Singapore on this proactive step to save lives from tobacco-related diseases, for its leadership in the region, and for its commitment to becoming a tobacco-free country. The Union’s Asia Pacific Office in Singapore is the permanent secretariat of APCAT, established in 2016.