Date
19 November 2017
Existing warnings on cigarette packs sold in Hong Kong include "smoking may cause impotence" and "smoking may damage your skin". Photos: Internet
Existing warnings on cigarette packs sold in Hong Kong include "smoking may cause impotence" and "smoking may damage your skin". Photos: Internet

Govt proposes new labeling rules in anti-tobacco fight

The Hong Kong government has proposed to amend the requirements on health warnings and information on tar and nicotine yields on tobacco products.

Updated rules will include a new labeling format for tar and nicotine yields. And the area of the graphic health warning should cover at least 85 percent of the two fronts of the cigarette packet with total number of warnings being doubled to 12.

The packs will display the number of a government-sponsored “QUITLINE 1833 183″, and will also carry the message “QUIT SMOKING FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS”.

Such amendments will also apply to the packaging of cigars and pipe tobacco.

Subject to the Legislative Council’s approval, the government will allow a year of gradual adaptation until April 21, 2018. From then on, packets or retail containers of tobacco products on sale in the territory must carry the new form of health warnings.

“Health warnings and messages are particularly effective when combined with information designed to increase tobacco users’ motivation and confidence in their determination to quit,” a spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said in a statement.

“International experience and evidence demonstrate that the effectiveness of graphic health warnings increases with their prominence. In many countries, more smokers report getting information about health risks of smoking from health warnings than most other means,” he said.

Hong Kong is among few markets where tobacco packets contain warning graphics. For instance, a pack could bear a picture of a bent cigarette with the caption “smoking may cause impotence”.

By contrast, tobacco packets sold in China merely contain a brief warning “smoking is harmful to health” in small fonts usually at the very bottom of one side of the pack.

The existing six graphic health warnings have been in use for over a decade. In May 2015, the government proposed to amend the prescribed forms, including specifications, of such health warnings, the size and number of health warnings and messages.

Now, the government proposes to make the rules even tougher.

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FC/RC

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