Concern on tobacco sale in black market

National 3 minutes, 15 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE minister of health yesterday acknowledged that people continue to import and distribute tobacco products in the black market despite smoking restrictions in Brunei.

In a message issued to mark World No Tobacco Day 2016, Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi said the selling of tobacco products in the black market poses serious harm to society.

“The whole community needs to take action to ensure that as a society, the health and well-being of ourselves and our children remains a top priority,” he said.

According to Ministry of Health (MoH) statistics, there were 277 offences recorded under the Tobacco Order 2005 in 2014, 329 offences in 2013 and 194 offences in 2012. “We know that smoking kills… in Brunei Darussalam, the top causes of mortality are cancer and heart disease and smoking is the common risk factor of both,” he said.

The minister said national surveys show that 97 per cent of adults know that smoking causes serious illnesses… but 18 per cent of the adult population continue to smoke. “Today, we call for a movement to translate this knowledge to a genuine change in behaviour,” YB Dato Dr Hj Zulkarnain said.

He urged members of the public to “take responsibility for their own health and well-being” and to quit smoking, which is the “single best decision you can make for yourself”.

He also encouraged those who wish to quit smoking to seek support from the ministry in doing so.

“Our smoking cessation services provide education, advice and counselling, and with these, the chance of success (for) a smoker who tries to quit will increase.

“If you or someone you know is thinking about quitting smoking, speak to your doctor today or call Talian Darussalam 123 for more information,” he said.

Last year, MoH launched mobile app ‘STaR — Sihat Tanpa Rokok’ (Healthy Without Smoking) as part of its efforts to further reduce smoking and raise awareness about the negative impacts of the habit in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day.

YB Dato Dr Hj Zulkarnain said the Ministry of Health wants to encourage Bruneians to abstain smoking for at least 24 hours.

“Hopefully, this will be the start of a positive journey to life-long abstince from the harmful effects of tobacco,” he added.

This year’s World No Tobacco Day, carries the theme “Get Ready for Plain Packaging”.

Plain packaging refers to measures that restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in a standard colour and font style.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), plain packaging is an important reduction measure that diminishes the attractiveness of tobacco products, and builds upon other measures as part of a comprehensive multisectoral approach to overall tobacco control.

WHO said there is a large body of evidence that justifies the introduction of plain packaging, particularly in Australia which in 2012 became the first country to fully implement tobacco plain packaging.

“An expert analysis conducted as part of Australia’s review found that introduction of plain packaging together with introduction of larger health warnings and new warnings had reduced smoking prevalence in Australia beyond the pre-existing downward trend.

“Specifically, the report estimated that between December 2012 and September 2015, the 2012 packaging changes reduced average smoking prevalence among Australians aged 14 years and over by 0.55 percentage points,” WHO said.

In Brunei, the Tobacco Order 2005 already includes restrictions on advertisements related to smoking, the promotion, distribution, packaging and labelling of tobacco products as well as smoking in certain areas.

Under the Order, any person who is found guilty of smoking in a prohibited area can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000.

It was previously reported that the Order was also amended in 2010 to raise the import duty on tobacco products by 100 per cent, and that there have been no licensed importers of cigarettes in Brunei since 2013, after the last three importers opted not to renew their licences.

The Brunei Times