A Hong Kong government proposal is seeking to amend health warnings on tobacco packs to comply with World Health Organization standards and international practices, but one aspect of the proposal has the government setting its own course, according to a comment piece by Grace Chan at scmp.com.
A proposal to increase the size of warnings is in line with international practice, but the government’s plan to retain the display of tar and nicotine yields runs contrary to international guidelines.
Under the WHO guidelines for implementing Article 11 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, contracting parties, which include Hong Kong, should not require quantitative statements on product packaging and labelling about tobacco constituents and emissions that might imply that one brand is less harmful than another, such as tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide figures.
The Legislative Council’s panel on health services has discussed the government’s proposals since December, and held a public hearing in January for stakeholders and members of the public to express their views.
On one occasion when legislators questioned Food and Health Bureau officials about why the government had not adopted WHO’s suggestion of removing displays of tar and nicotine yields on cigarette packaging, a bureau official said that, given the government’s “progressive approach”, it was necessary to retain the indication of tar and nicotine yields to make the public aware of the existence of such substances that are harmful to health.