Singapore 1st July 2020 As many of you know last year on multiple occasions APTRA met with Singapore’s Ministry of Health and their Tobacco Control Division to see how we could gain separation between domestic health policy regulation, aiming for an exception for the Duty-Free category. We were informed last year that Singapore would apply this regulation fully across any sales of tobacco products.
As of today, tobacco products will no longer be allowed to display logos, colours, images or other promotional information associated with the tobacco brand. Product and brand names will only be permitted in a standardised font style and colour. The graphic health warnings will take on 75 per cent of the packaging surface, from 50 per cent. These changes will apply to all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, beedies, ang hoon and other roll-your-own tobacco products.
Governing the importation of tobacco for individual travellers into Singapore, government gazette (No. S 441) allows for the importation of tobacco products that do not comply with this regulation, provided that upon declaration, the individual and the tobacco product satisfy the exemption criteria as listed in paragraph 4(1) to 4(4) of the gazette.
Seeking An Extension of Grace Period to Phase Existing Stock
Given the Covid19 situation halting the ability to sell the stock with the old health warning parameters. APTRA had submitted several appeals to both Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), seeking an extension of the grace period to phase out existing stock. Pending a response from MTI, there is currently no extension granted to all Duty-Free distributors and retailers as the regulation comes into force.
With standardised packaging for tobacco products now in force, Singapore is the second country in Southeast Asia, and the fourth in the Asia Pacific to have implemented standardised packaging for tobacco products.
This comes after Thailand, Australia and New Zealand respectively.
We expect further adoption of tobacco plain packaging at a regional level, especially in view of the recent ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) appellate body, which ruled in favour of Australia’s standardized packaging regulation for cigarettes. This ruling by the apex decision making body in the WTO, would likely encourage other countries to follow suit, having witnessed how Australia has managed to fend off a decade-long legal challenge across successive government administrations.
Our team at Hume Brophy will continue to monitor regulatory developments and sustain our follow-ups with key stakeholders.
If you have any information regarding government or public consultations on regulatory changes, please submit all advocacy-related information, queries or feedback to [email protected].