BANGKOK – Thailand rolled out plain cigarette packaging on Tuesday. The first country in Asia to introduce what activists say is an effective way to reduce the appeal of smoking.
In 2012, Australia became the first country to require tobacco products to be sold without colorful brand logos.
Since then a host of mostly European countries have followed suit, including France, Hungary and the U.K.
Thailand agreed last year to comply with the WHO’s guidelines, and generic cigarette packs officially hit stores Tuesday.
Businesses have until Dec. 8 to phase out stocks before facing fines of up to 40,000 baht ($1,300).
The standardized cigarette packaging includes a graphic picture and the logo-free brand name written in plain font.
Keeping a uniform typeface below graphic depictions of cigarette-related illnesses will make the products less attractive to buyers. Prakit Vathesatogkit, vice chair of the nongovernmental organization Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance applauds the packaging.
“Nonsmokers and kids, they are less likely to smoking cigarettes,” Prakit said.
There are more than 246 million cigarette smokers in Southeast Asia. Low prices help make it one of the largest tobacco-consuming regions in the world.
In Thailand, the health impact is huge and cigarette smoking-related illnesses are a leading cause of death.
Singapore is set to implement similar restrictions on packaging next year.