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Singapore

Health Ministry plans smoking ban for persons under 21

The Ministry of Health will propose legislation to ban persons under 21 years of age from buying, using and possessing tobacco products, The Straits Times reported.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/Health_Ministry_plans_smoking_ban_for_persons_under_21.54139.0.html

The ministry plans to table a proposal within a year that calls for a phased in ban, the newspaper said on its website. The current legal smoking age is 18. Similar laws have been adopted in Sri Lanka and some parts of the United States, according to Straits Times.

Legal age for smoking to be raised to 21

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/minimum-legal-age-for-sale-of-tobacco-products-to-be-raised-to/3580594.html

The legal age for smoking and buying tobacco products in Singapore will be raised from 18 to 21, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor announced in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 9).

“We want to protect our young from the harms of tobacco, and lay the foundation for good health,” she said.

The restrictions, which will be phased in over the next few years, will cover the retail and social supply to minors; and the purchase, use and possession of tobacco products by minors, the Ministry of Health said.

Dr Khor said that in Singapore, 45 per cent of smokers become regular ones between the ages of 18 and 21. Research has also shown that adolescent brains have a heightened sensitivity to the effects of nicotine, with a World Health Organization (WHO) report stating that people who do not start smoking before the age of 21 “are unlikely to ever begin”, she added.

She also noted the Health Promotion Board conducted public consultation on further tobacco control measures between December 2015 and March 2016, and feedback showed “considerable support” for raising the minimum legal age for smoking in Singapore.

As such, to further de-normalise tobacco use and reduce the number of youths from picking up the habit, the ministry will propose legislative changes to Parliament within a year to raise the minimum legal age to sell tobacco products to minors from the ages of 18 to 21, Dr Khor said.

Dr Khor also gave an update on standardising tobacco packaging, saying the ministry had studied closely the experience of Australia, France and the United Kingdom as countries that had implemented this.

“(We) see significant value in moving in this direction, so as to reduce the appeal of tobacco products, particularly to youths, and raise the visibility and effectiveness of health warnings,” she said.

“We will conduct a further public consultation on standardised packaging this year to seek additional and more detailed views on possible standardised packaging measures,” Dr Khor added.

Responding to the decision, the Tobacco Association of Singapore highlighted various concerns on how this would be implemented by licensed tobacco retailers “in a practical manner” and whether the regulation would be enforced for non-Singaporean visitors.

It also raised the issue of whether retailers facing manpower issues would face restrictions in hiring workers between the ages of 18 and 20 as a result.

The association added that it welcomed the opportunity to provide further input in the second round of public consultation on the proposal for standardised packaging.

Ban on flavoured tobacco products will hurt business: Retailers

Retailers have strongly objected to a proposal to ban the sale of flavoured tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes, as it could hit their businesses hard.

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/ban-flavoured-tobacco-products-will-hurt-business-retailers-0

A survey of 1,475 independent general trade retailers by a group of trade associations — such as the Foochow Coffee Restaurant & Bar Merchants Association and Singapore Mini Mart Association — found that 99 per cent of the respondents stated that such a prohibition would negatively affect their business, while 97 per cent were concerned that the move could lead adult smokers to turn to illegal sources.

The proposed ban was among a suite of tobacco-control measures — which also included raising the minimum legal age for smoking and enhancing graphic health warnings — put up for public consultation early this year by the Health Promotion Board, the Ministry of Health, and the Health Sciences Authority.

Pointing to how some stores had closed after they were badly affected by the new liquor laws, which started last year, Mr Hong Poh Hin, who chairs the Foochow Coffee Restaurant & Bar Merchants Association, said: “It is important to ensure any proposed tobacco-control measures are supported by evidence of effectiveness in reducing smoking incidence in Singapore, while addressing the impact on the affected retailers.”

“Our members, many of which are small- and medium-enterprises, have been bearing the brunt of escalating operating costs, manpower constraints and a flurry of increasing regulations that directly impacted their biggest sources of income,” he added.

Among other things, the new laws bar supermarkets and convenience stalls from selling takeaway alcohol from 10.30pm to 7am.

“We fear that such recurrent regulations will lead many more to shut down their businesses. This prompted our associations to launch this (survey),” Mr Hong added.

Other associations involved in the survey were Kheng Keow Coffee Merchants Restaurant and Bar-Owners Association, and Singapore Provision Shop Friendly Association.

Ninety-eight per cent of those surveyed said almost half of their customers who buy tobacco products only request the flavoured variants. The survey, which was conducted between July and September, also uncovered concerns that adult smokers would turn to illegal sources to have a puff.

Noting that the illicit cigarette trade is “substantial” here, Singapore Mini Mart Association chair Alan Tay said: “These illegal activities have a huge adverse impact on legitimate traders like us, that operate within the parameters of the law.”

The trade associations are also in the midst of another study on the efficacy and impact on trade of the proposed ban on flavoured tobacco products, and plan to share its results with the Government. KELLY NG

SCORECARD LAUNCHED ON FCTC IMPLEMENTATION IN THE ASEAN REGION

Singapore leads the way in a 10-country race in the ASEAN to protect public health from the harms of tobacco use according to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Scorecard launched by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).

In a region where nearly half of all adult men smoke and where 10% (125 million) of the world’s smokers live, it is indeed a race to reverse the smoking epidemic and its devastating impacts that claims about 500,000 deaths every year.

“The scorecard acknowledges achievements and progressive efforts of ASEAN governments while also identifying implementation gaps that need further action. It also encourages comparisons between countries to further motivate the strengthening of FCTC implementation. Overall, there is significant room for further progress,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, SEATCA FCTC Program Director.

Over-all, Singapore scored the highest (80.5%), followed by Brunei (71.2%) and Thailand (67.1%). Two key areas for improvement are in policies on tobacco taxation and protecting health policies from tobacco industry interference.

While raising tobacco taxes is recognized as among the most effective means of reducing consumption, this measure is the least well implemented among ASEAN countries. The region’s most expensive cigarettes are found in Brunei and Singapore, but cigarettes are still generally very affordable in all countries.

Most countries are experiencing tobacco industry interference and do not have a FCTC Article 5.3 policy or code of conduct to address this problem. Only Singapore has a FCTC Article 5.3 policy or code of conduct that is enforced by the whole government, while the Philippines has a FCTC Article 5.3 policy or code of conduct that applies to the whole government but needs improved enforcement.

Enforcement of smoke-free policies needs to be strengthened further to achieve the full health benefits of such policies. All countries restrict or ban smoking in many settings, but only Brunei enforces a smoking ban in all indoor workplaces, indoor public places, and public transport, as well as some outdoor public places.

While standardized packaging of tobacco or ‘plain packaging’ is widely regarded as the best way to package tobacco, no ASEAN country has yet implemented this measure.

All countries, however, require pictorial health warnings on packages, although some require them only for cigarettes and not for other (e.g. smokeless) tobacco products.

Thailand leads with the largest pictorial health warnings (85% front and back).

All ASEAN countries except Indonesia, a non-party to the FCTC, enforce a complete ban on tobacco advertising in print media, TV, radio, and cinema. Regrettably, only half of the ASEAN countries (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) enforce a ban on tobacco advertising at points of sale (POS).

The scorecard is available at www.seatca.org.

Desensitisation to cigarette package graphic health warnings

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Full ban on shisha, emerging tobacco products in S’pore from Aug 1

SINGAPORE — The ban on shisha will kick in on Monday (Aug 1) after the end of a grace period.

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/full-ban-shisha-emerging-tobacco-products-spore-aug-1

Licensed tobacco importers and retailers who import or sell shisha tobacco will be prohibited from importing, wholesaling or selling tobacco, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Sciences Authority announced in a joint statement on Thursday (July 28).

Although it was banned since Nov 28, 2014, shisha tobacco importers and retailers were given a grace period until July 31, 2016 to allow them to restructure their businesses and deplete their existing stock.

The ban on shisha tobacco is part of a larger suite of measures to reduce tobacco consumption.

Also coming into force on Monday is the second phase of the ban on on emerging tobacco products available in Singapore, including nasal snuff, oral snuff, gutkha, kaini and zarda.

In June last year, the MOH announced the first phase of the ban on emerging tobacco products not already available in Singapore. The ban was put into effect on Dec 15, 2015, and prohibited products such as smokeless cigars, dissolvable tobacco or nicotine, topically applied tobacco, and any solution with tobacco or nicotine that could be used with e-cigarettes.

All licensed tobacco importers, wholesalers and retailers will therefore be prohibited from importing, wholesaling or retailing all forms of emerging tobacco products.

Anyone who flouts the bans on emerging smoking products and shisha could be jailed up to six months and/or fined up to S$10,000. Those with a prior conviction could be jailed up to 12 months and/or fined up to S$20,000.

As part of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act (TCASA), there will also be a ban on the point-of-sale display of tobacco products. This will take effect on Aug 1, 2017 as retailers have a one-year grace period.

The existing ban on advertisements for tobacco products will also be extended to cover advertising for e-cigarettes and similar products. The ban on advertising for tobacco products, e-cigarettes and similar products will include advertisements published electronically. This covers advertisements and sales promotions originating from Singapore and those from outside of Singapore that can be accessed by people in Singapore.

Customer loyalty programmes and promotional schemes involving tobacco products are also not allowed.

Members of the public with information on retailers and importers contravening the ban may call the authorities’ reporting line at 6684-2036 or 6884-2037 during office hours.

Ban on point-of-sale display of tobacco products from Aug 1, 2017; retailers will have 1-year grace period

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/ban-on-point-of-sale-display-of-tobacco-products-from-aug-1-2017-retailers-will

The point-of-sale display ban on tobacco products – approved in Parliament in March – takes effect on August 1, 2017.

Retailers have a one-year grace period before the ban goes into effect, a joint statement by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Thursday (July 28) said.

MOH has beefed up tobacco control measures in a bid to protect public health and reduce tobacco consumption, particularly among younger Singaporeans.

These include previously announced amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act on Monday (Aug 1), such as bans on emerging tobacco products and shisha.

MOH said the point-of-sale display ban on tobacco products aims to reduce the exposure of non-smokers, especially among the young, to the advertising effect of tobacco product displays.

It also hopes to help current smokers attempting to quit by minimising impulse purchases of tobacco products.

General tobacco retailers will be required to use plain, undecorated storage devices to keep tobacco products within their premises out of the direct line of sight of the public and potential customers.

A text-only price list, which must fulfil MOH’s requirements, may be shown, but only upon customers’ request.

MOH noted that globally, there has been a marked increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among young people.

The amended Act extends existing restrictions on e-cigarettes to include newer varieties which do not necessarily bear a physical resemblance to cigarettes or other tobacco products.

The component parts of such products will also be banned to prevent retailers from importing them and reassembling them locally for sale.

Existing prohibitions on advertisements for tobacco products will also be extended to cover advertising for e-cigarettes and similar products.

The ban on advertising for tobacco products, e-cigarettes and similar products will also be extended to advertisements published electronically, MOH said.

Advertisements and sales promotions originating from Singapore, whether targeting local or foreign audiences, and advertisements from outside Singapore which can be accessed by people in Singapore, will now be banned.

Customer loyalty programmes and promotional schemes involving tobacco products are also not allowed.

A ban on emerging tobacco products first imposed in June last year will now be extended to include the likes of nasal snuff, oral snuff and gutkha.

From Monday, the grace period for importers and retailers on the ban on shisha – first imposed in November 2014 – comes to an end.

Existing licensed tobacco importers and retailers who import or sell shisha will be prohibited from importing, wholesaling or retailing the product.

MOH said that any person who contravenes either the ban on emerging tobacco products or the ban on shisha can be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned up to six months, or both.

In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, they could face a fine of up to $20,000, imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.

Members of the public who have information on the import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of emerging tobacco products or shisha can call the reporting line at 6684 2036 or 6684 2037 during office hours.

MOH said it remains committed to lowering smoking prevalence in Singapore through a multi-pronged approach towards tackling tobacco use. This, it said, includes public education, restrictions on tobacco advertising, easy access to smoking cessation services and taxation.

Home Briefs: Action against six tobacco retailers

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/home-briefs-action-against-six-tobacco-retailers

Action against six tobacco retailers

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has either revoked or suspended the tobacco retail licences of six errant retailers for selling tobacco products to minors under 18.

The six were caught via ground surveillance and enforcement activities conducted by HSA, it said yesterday.

Song Hui Kiosk in Ang Mo Kio had its licence revoked after it was found to have sold tobacco to a 14-year-old in school uniform. The other retailers – Shivaranjani Minimart, 26 Foodloft, Al Kaaba Mini-Mart, Sin Hup Lee Store and O A Jalil – will be barred from selling tobacco products for six months.

Since 2013, HSA has suspended 32 tobacco retail licences and revoked 22 others.

HSA revokes, suspends licences of 6 retailers for selling tobacco to minors

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/hsa-revokes-suspends-licences-of-6-retailers-for-selling-tobacco-to-minors

Song Hui Kiosk had its tobacco retail licence revoked, while the licences of the other five were suspended for six months. PHOTO: HSA

Song Hui Kiosk had its tobacco retail licence revoked, while the licences of the other five were suspended for six months. PHOTO: HSA

SINGAPORE – The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has either revoked or suspended the tobacco retail licences of six errant retailers for selling tobacco products to minors under 18.

The six were caught via ground surveillance and enforcement activities conducted by HSA, it said in a press release on Tuesday (July 5).

Song Hui Kiosk in Ang Mo Kio had its licence revoked and will no longer be allowed to sell tobacco products, after it was found to have sold them to a 14-year-old in school uniform.

The other five retailers – Shivaranjani Minimart, 26 Foodloft, Al Kaaba Mini-Mart, Sin Hup Lee Store, and O A Jalil – had sold tobacco products to minors for the first time.

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They will be prohibited from selling tobacco products for six months.

Since 2013, HSA said it has suspended 32 tobacco retail licences and revoked 22 others.

HSA reminded tobacco retail licensees that they are responsible for all transactions of tobacco products at their outlets, as well as the actions of their employees.

It also urged licensees to educate their employees on the law pertaining to the sale of such products, and for sellers to check the age of those who wish to buy them.

Anyone caught selling tobacco products to minors aged 18 and below can be fined up to $5,000 for the first offence, and up to $10,000 for subsequent offences.

In addition, the tobacco retail licence will be suspended for six months for the first offence, and revoked for the second.

Any outlet found selling tobacco products to minors in school uniform or to those below 12, however, will have their licences revoked at the first offence.

The public can view the updated list of tobacco retailers with suspended or revoked licences here.

Pharmalutions Pte Ltd – German-owned, Singapore-based

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