All tobacco products imported into, or distributed, sold, offered for sale or possessed for sale in Singapore will be subject to standardised packaging and enlarged graphic health warnings starting from 1 July 2020.
In a press release on Monday (1 July), the Ministry of Health (MOH) stated that the SP Measure will apply to all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, beedies, ang hoon and other roll-your-own tobacco products.
The decision to implement the SP Measure for all tobacco packaging was made on 31 October 2018, after an extensive process of reviewing and evaluating the available international and local studies, research and evidence on the SP Measure, as well as several rounds of public consultations.
Following the passage of amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act in March 2019, MOH is introducing subsidiary legislation to implement the SP Measure for all tobacco products in Singapore and their packaging and labelling.
The ministry stated that the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Appearance, Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2019 (SP Regulations) were published on 1 July 2019 and will come into operation on 1 July 2020, i.e. 12 months after they are gazetted.
The ministry stated that the requirements set out in the SP Regulations encompass the packaging, appearance and labelling on retail packaging of all tobacco products and include:
- The removal of all logos, colours, images and promotional information on the packaging of tobacco products (other than brand names and variant names displayed in a standard colour and font style);
- 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.
MOH stressed that non-compliance with the SP Regulations is an offence punishable with a fine not exceeding $10,000, imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months or both for first offenders. Those with a prior qualifying conviction will face heavier penalties.
A three-month transition period from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 will be provided, via the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Labelling) (Exemption) Order 2019, 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 ministry noted that the transition period will help tobacco manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to adjust and prepare for the full implementation of the SP Measure from 1 July 2020.
“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 the ministry.
“Other tobacco control measures include 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, so as to reduce the prevalence of smoking in Singapore, and meet the government’s obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” it added.