The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday commended Thailand’s tobacco control measures as it prepares to become the first country in Asia to require that all tobacco products are sold in standardized packaging, according to a story in The Bangkok Post.

“Thailand’s bold steps against tobacco – the single most important cause of preventable deaths worldwide – are commendable and reflect the country’s earnest efforts to promote the health and well-being of its people,” Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO Southeast Asia, was quoted as saying.

The new standardized-packaging regulations comprise the Government’s latest effort to curb smoking. They add to the 2017 Tobacco Control Act, which mandated a minimum age of 20 for tobacco purchases, and banned single-stick sales and tobacco advertisements, promotions and sponsorship.

As elsewhere, the standardized packaging regulations are due to restrict the use of logos, colors, brand images and promotional information, leaving only brand names and product names displayed in a standard color and font.

The Post said that under the new law, all tobacco products would have to be sold in standardized packs by September 2019. Thailand already had graphic health warnings covering 85 percent of tobacco-product packaging, it added.

Thailand has more than 11 million smokers, with, it is estimated, one in five Thai adults smoking.

Nearly 50 percent of men between the ages of 35 and 54 smoke, while one in every six Thais between the ages of 13 and 17 uses tobacco.

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