ASEAN pictorial health warning best practices: Gaps and challenges
More details
Hide details
Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Bangkok, Thailand
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Tan Yen Lian   

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Bangkok, Thailand
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A107
All ten ASEAN countries are among 118 countries and territories in the world that finalized pictorial health warning (PHW) requirements in accordance to WHO FCTC Article 11. Thailand and Singapore are the first two Asian countries requiring standardized packaging, eliminating all promotional aspects of packaging (including brand colors, logos, and graphics), effective from 10 September 2019 and 1 July 2020, respectively.

The paper aims to track countries’ progress in implementing effective PHW policies, identify gaps, and areas for improvement in the existing policies of each ASEAN country.

A self-administered questionnaire was developed according to FCTC Article 11 Guidelines requirements for survey in ten ASEAN countries. Country partners filled the questionnaire based on their current health warning regulations/law.

The analysis showed that (1) PHWs applied to all forms of tobacco packaging but not on the entire range of tobacco products in some countries; (2) four countries require at least 75% PHW warning sizes and the largest warning (Thailand’s 85%); (3) all ASEAN countries, except Philippines, require PHW on top front and back panels of the package for maximum warnings visibility; (4) tax stamp partly covers the PHW in some countries despite the law prohibiting obscured health warnings; (5) industry can produce PHWs in only 3 months; (6) PHWs rotation delayed in Lao PDR and Vietnam; (7) misleading descriptors banned in most countries except Brunei; (8) display of emission yield figures prohibited in Brunei, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand but allowed in Indonesia; (9) expiry date of tobacco product labels prohibited in Thailand but mandated in Vietnam; (10) the region shares PHWs images; and (11) PHW required on tobacco products for duty-free sale except in Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

All ASEAN countries must continuously strengthen existing regulations. Governments are encouraged to join Thailand and Singapore in adopting standardized packaging to complement PHWs’ effectiveness.