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Government briefs tobacco trade on proposal to amend health warnings on tobacco product packets and retail containers
     The Food and Health Bureau (FHB) and the Tobacco Control Office of the Department of Health today (November 23) held a briefing for the tobacco trade to further explain the Government's proposal to amend health warnings on packets and retail containers of tobacco products as well as technical issues related to implementation of the proposal.
     The Government's proposed amendments are as follows:
  1. The area of the graphic health warning shall be of a size that covers at least 85% of the two largest surfaces of the packet or the retail container;
  2. Increase the number of forms of health warning from six to 12;
  3. Incorporate the following health warning messages together with the existing "HKSAR GOVERNMENT WARNING"-"QUIT SMOKING FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS" and "QUITLINE: 1833 183" .
     The Government plans to provide the trade with a six-month adaptation period from the date of the publication of the amendment proposal on the Gazette.
     A spokesman for the FHB said, "Having studied overseas experience and considering the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Government proposes to amend the prescribed forms (including specifications) of health warnings, the size and number of health warnings and messages on packet or retail container of cigarettes and tobacco products under the Smoking (Public Health) (Notices) Order, with a view to maintaining the salience and enhancing the impact of health warnings and messages.
     "Overseas experience suggests that the increase in the size of health warning on packet or retail container of cigarettes and tobacco products helps reduce smoking prevalence, remind the public of the risk of smoking, as well as increase attempts to quit. Some countries have also banned display of tobacco products at point-of-sale.
     "In fact, the WHO has urged its members to prepare for adopting plain packaging (standardised packaging) for tobacco products. Expanding the size of health warnings and messages is the international trend."
     The major views expressed by the representatives of the tobacco trade who participated in the briefing include the six-month adaptation period was inadequate; the requirement of indication of tar and nicotine yields should be removed; the graphic files of the health warning forms should be provided as early as possible to facilitate the trade's preparation and ensure technical feasibility of the proposal, etc.
     During the briefing, the Government representatives responded in detail to questions on implementation of the proposal at the briefing and noted the trade's views concerning the adaptation period and other technical issues. The Government would consider how best to facilitate the trade in preparing for the amendment proposal. The Government would report in details to the Panel on Health Services of the Legislative Council in December regarding the details of the proposal and the views collected. The Government plans to submit the amendment order to the Legislative Council in the first quarter of next year.
Ends/Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Issued at HKT 23:51
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