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HPB, in partnership with HSA, is proposing amendments to the Smoking (CAST) Act. We invite you to comment on the proposed amendments and shape the future of tobacco control in Singapore.
Public Consultation on the Proposed Amendments to the Smoking (Control of Advertisements and Sale of Tobacco) Act
Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death in the world today. It is the only known product that will potentially kill up to half of its users, on average 15 years prematurely. To combat tobacco use, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) coordinates a national multi-pronged strategy that includes taxation, public education, smoking cessation services, partnerships and legislation. As a result, the smoking rate among adults aged 18-69 years declined from 20% in 1980 to 13.6% in 2007.
The Smoking (Control of Advertisements and Sale of Tobacco) Act, or CAST Act, enforced by Health Sciences Authority (HSA), is the principal legislation controlling tobacco use and comprises:
- bans on advertisements relating to smoking;
- bans the use of tobacco products by young persons;
- bans on the sale or supply of tobacco products to the youth; and
- control of the sale, packaging and health warnings of the tobacco products.
Over the years, the CAST Act has been amended to keep up with new trends and to incorporate more stringent tobacco control measures. The last amendment was in 2003 to address underage smoking. New provisions to reduce access to tobacco products by underage persons and enhanced provisions to control the sale of tobacco products were introduced.
In 2004, Singapore ratified the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first global health treaty to combat tobacco use. As a Party to the FCTC, Singapore is committed to develop, implement and review its tobacco control strategies in accordance to the treaty. In recent years, new trends, such as emergence of alternative tobacco products and increasing number of young adult smokers, have necessitated a comprehensive review of existing strategies.
Taking into account the above, the HPB, in partnership with HSA, propose to amend the CAST Act and its subsidiary legislations to ensure that tobacco control strategies remain effective in reducing smoking prevalence. The amendments include removing the exemption which allows tobacco company sponsorship; lowering maximum tar and nicotine limits; empowering the Minister for Health to prohibit harmful tobacco products; increasing composition fine and maximum court fine for underage smokers; reviewing criteria for licencing of tobacco retailers; banning misleading labelling; and requiring new packaging for cigarillos. This public consultation aims to inform the public of the enhanced measures and seek feedback on the proposed amendments and emerging issues. The responses will help shape future tobacco control strategies.
The WHO estimates that 5.4 million people die from tobacco-related diseases every year. If current trends continue, tobacco will kill more than eight million every year by 2030. In Singapore, smoking is a risk factor for 6 of the 8 leading causes of deaths. According to a study by the National University of Singapore, the social costs of smoking from healthcare, absenteeism and loss of productivity from smoking-related diseases is between $700 million and $800 million.
The National Smoking Control Programme (NSCP) was formed in 1986 to prevent smoking initiation among the young, promote smoking cessation among smokers and protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Utilising a multi-pronged approach that includes taxation, public education, smoking cessation services, partnerships and legislation, Singapore has achieved one of the lowest smoking rates in the world.
Over the last few years, new smoking trends have developed. Results from the National Health Surveillance Survey 2007 showed that the smoking rate among daily smokers aged 18-69 years increased slightly from 12.6% in 2004 to 13.6% in 2007. Compared to other age groups, the smoking rate was highest among young adults aged 18-29 years, from 12.3% in 2004 to 17.2% in 2007; in males the increase was from 18.2% to 25.4% and for females it was 6.6% to 9.1%.
The increasing trend of daily smokers among young adults underscores the need to review existing tobacco control strategies. New measures are also needed to fulfil Singapore's obligations to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as well as address emerging trends such as alternative tobacco products. HPB, in partnership with HSA, proposes to amend the CAST Act and its subsidiary legislations. The amendments will strengthen legislation in the area of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; tobacco product regulation; use and sale of tobacco products to underage persons; and labelling and packaging of tobacco products.
From 3 August 2009 to 28 August 2009, we would like to invite you to comment on the proposed amendments to CAST Act. To submit your feedback, please mail to the Health Promotion Board (Substance Abuse), 3 Second Hospital Avenue Singapore 168937.