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No more misleading labels on tobacco products

One of the new graphic warnings for tobacco packaging.

By Joy Fang
my paper
Friday, Feb 24, 2012

Come March next year, the packaging of tobacco products can no longer have six descriptions, including “light”, “mild” and “low tar”, printed on it.

Companies must also implement a new set of graphic health warnings – photos whose use is rotated regularly to maintain the effectiveness of the warnings. The last change was in 2006.

The individual packaging must carry health information, too, instead of tar and nicotine yield levels.

The outer packaging, or carton packaging, must also carry health warnings in text and the new set of graphic warnings, along with notices on age restrictions for sale as well as health information, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) said in a press release yesterday.

Currently, only individual cigarette packs need to include such warnings and labels.

The health information tells consumers about the hazards of smoking, such as how it exposes them to more than 4,000 toxic chemicals, of which at least 60 can cause cancer.

The tighter regulations come in the wake of amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act in July 2010, and at a time when a growing proportion of young people smoke.

According to HPB, the proportion of smokers aged 18 to 29 jumped from 12.3 per cent in 2004 to 16.3 per cent in 2010.

In total, the proportion of smokers rose from 12.6 per cent in 2004 to 14.3 per cent in 2010, said past news reports.

Other changes announced yesterday include requiring cigarillos, or mini cigars, to be sold in packs of 20, instead of the current packs of 10.

HPB said that this is “to discourage smoking experimentation and initiation with the low number of units per pack”.

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