Government seeks tighter measures on Tobacco ads and sales

The Ministry of Health (MOH), together with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), will be looking to tighten the laws on tobacco advertising and sale.

MOH, HPB and HSA are proposing amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act to prohibit point-of-sale displays (POSD) of tobacco products. According to a press statement by the MOH, the POSD ban aims to reduce exposure of non-smokers, especially youth, to the advertising effects of POSD displays. Through this move, it hopes to reduce the likelihood of tobacco products being purchased on impulse and thereby help smokers who are trying to quit.

Under the proposed ban, tobacco retailers will be required to keep tobacco products out of the direct line of sight of patrons. Penalties like fines will be imposed if retailers do not comply with the requirements in the regulations.

Currently, the Tobacco (Control of Advertisement and Sale) Act prohibits advertisements, promotions and sponsorships relating to tobacco products. It also regulates the sale, packaging and trade description of tobacco products.Under the current rule price lists of tobacco products are prohibited as they can be considered as a form of advertisement. Going forward, the Act will be amended to now allow tobacco retailers to show text-only price lists of tobacco products to customers upon request.

“This way, customers will not need to request to view the tobacco products within the storage units for an extended period of time, thus reducing the period for which other customers are exposed to the tobacco product,” the MOH statement read. Meanwhile, a number of administrative and technical amendments have also been proposed to streamline operational and enforcement aspects of the Act and to update it for better control of imitation tobacco products and tobacco promotions, advertisements and sponsorship.

In addition, Section 13 of the Act will be amended to allow the Government to standardise and prescribe specifications for the visual characteristics of “No Sale to Minors” signage used by retailers.

MOH had previously sought feedback on the above measures through a public consultation in June 2013. Trade engagement sessions with tobacco retailers were also conducted in November 2014, to address their potential concerns with the introduction of the POSD ban.

For the current measures, public consultation will be held from 25 June to 24 July 2015 on proposed amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act (TCASA).