Scaring smokers

Will bigger, more frightening, warning labels on cigarette packages reduce the number of smokers in the country? Health experts and anti-smoking groups believe they will and the tobacco industry seems to agree.

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The proposed larger and more frightening warnings on cigarette packages are scaring smokers and they have made tobacco industry officials uncomfortable as well. APICHART JINAKUL

Scaring smokers

Will bigger, more frightening, warning labels on cigarette packages reduce the number of smokers in the country?

Health experts and anti-smoking groups believe they will and the tobacco industry seems to agree.

Fewer smokers means lower sales and profits and a court action by The Thai Tobacco Trade Association (TTTA) may prevent this from happening.

The TTTA lodged a complaint with the Central Administrative Court on June 26, asking it to issue an injunction to suspend the enforcement of a new regulation requiring tobacco firms to enlarge warning labels to cover 85% of the total visible packaging surface.

The new regulation is set to take effect on Oct 2.

Tobacco companies complain that haven't been given enough time to prepare new designs and they weren't adequately consulted before the decision to change the label size.

Jirawat Yoosabai, the Public Health Ministry’s lawyer in charge of the case, disputes both claims.

‘‘After the regulation comes into force on Oct 2, the companies will have another 180 days to sell off the old version packaging and prepare their new package designs,’’ he said.

Mr Jirawat said the ministry invited tobacco companies to join hearings in May.

Anti-smoking leaders believe the court will decide against the tobacco companies as has been the case in several other countries where similar suits were filed.

We will likely know within a month, Mr Jirawat says.

Adapted from a story by Paritta Wangkiat in today's Bangkok Post.

Related search: warning labels, cigarettes, Public Health Ministry

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Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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