Six key public health organizations and allies in Thailand on Sept. 17 vowed to support the new draft of the Tobacco Control Act and called on the government and the National Legislative Assembly to push this law through in an effort to protect the country’s youth.
At an academic conference held in Chiang Mai province, the group also said that, as of Sept. 15, their campaign, which is available at www.vote4tobaccolaw.com, had received more than 12 million signatures. The groups behind the campaign—which include the Thai Public Health Club, the Mohanamai Network Foundation and the Health Professional Association of Thailand—expect to reach their target of 15 million signatures when the law deliberation is completed in six months.
Thai cigarette manufacturers will have to print even larger pictorial health warnings by Sept. 23, now that the Supreme Administrative Court has ruled in support of a new regulation by the Public Health Ministry, according to a report in The Nation.
In line with the regulation, pictorial warnings must now cover at least 85 percent of space on the two largest sides of each package.
Earlier, the tobacco industry had secured an injunction from the Central Administrative Court.
The Supreme Administrative Court, however, decided to scrap the injunction on the grounds that the Public Health Ministry has proceeded with proper procedures and introduced the regulation to protect people’s health.
There will be a 90-day grace period for retailers to clear their existing stock of cigarettes, according to the Disease Control Department.
Currently, cigarette packages have pictorial warnings that cover about 55 percent of packets. After the grace period, companies that fail to abide by the new regulation will face a fine.
The smoking room in the domestic departure area of Thailand’s Phuket International Airport is to be closed at the end of this month, but the smoking room in the international departure area will remain open, according to a story in the Phuket News.
And this is a pattern that will be repeated throughout the country as all smoking rooms within domestic airport facilities will be closed while those in international airport facilities will be retained.
Pratueng Sornkham, director of Airports of Thailand, Phuket, said the closures followed the enforcement of a new Ministry of Health no-smoking law.
In the future, domestic flight passengers travelling through Phuket would be able to leave the terminal if they wanted to smoke.
But once they had checked in and gone through security into the departures area, they would no longer be able to indulge their habit.
The Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) has gradually lost market share to imported cigarettes since the country lifted the tax barrier two decades ago, says director-general Torsak Chotimongkol.
Local cigarettes still claim 76 percent of the market, but foreign cigarettes are likely to gain one percentage point to 25 percent by the end of this year, according to a story in the Bangkok Post.
Torsak said TTM is trying to regain market share in the middle- to upper-income markets dominated by imported cigarettes, while also keeping its low-income base. “We need to protect our share from imports, as our margin is quite thin,” he said.
TTM cigarettes make up 33 percent of the market, legally imported cigarettes make up 12 percent, smuggled smokes contribute 10 percent and roll-your-own tobacco comprises 45 percent, said Torsak.
Roll-your-own tobacco has gained rapidly as a result of the tax waiver for local breeds of tobacco, while the tobacco produced by TTM is taxed at THB1,000 a kilogram.
Last year TTM had total sales of 36 billion units for THB70 billion, and this year will likely be similar.
“If TTM can expand overseas, our sales may reach THB100 billion, as we are now attempting to enter into Japan, the U.S. and Europe to build up our brand,” said Tanusak Lekuthai, deputy finance minister.
Cigarette sales of the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) have declined significantly as Thai smokers started rolling more of their own cigarettes in the wake of last month’s tax hike, reports The Bangkok Post.
The state-owned tobacco manufacturer expects sales will gradually improve and return to normal in the coming months.
Managing Director Torsak Chotimongkol said the cigarette sales volume fell by 70 percent in the first week after the tobacco tax hike was announced on 21 Aug. But the situation improved the following week, with sales rebounding to half of normal levels and then to 70 percent this week.
The RYO cigarette market has been showing signs of significant growth and now exceeds the TTM’s market share.
Despite the challenges, the TTM forecasts improved full-year results supported mainly by better cost management and higher prices as a result of the excise tax increase.
It booked revenue of THB70 billion ($2.27 billion) for a net profit of THB5 billion last year and expects the bottom line will increase to 5.5 to 6 billion this year.
The TTM is building two new factories, in the Rojana Industrial Estate and Chiang Mai province.
They are intended to boost quality rather than capacity, which the TTM will keep at 3.2 billion cigarettes a year.