OMAN – Oman has become the second country in the region, after Saudi Arabia, to adopt plain packaging for tobacco products.

Beginning Aug. 14, 2023, tobacco products sold in Oman will be required to be sold in plain packaging.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) has issued a decision on Omani Standard Specification (OS 1655:2022) on plain packaging of tobacco products and deemed it a binding Omani standard specification.

The move has been appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO) office for the Eastern Mediterranean, describing Oman’s action as ‘significant and pioneering’.

It added that the step is consistent with the obligations of the states that are party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty that sets out numerous obligations aimed at reducing the global burden of tobacco use.

The move is also consistent with the sultanate’s plans to meet a 30 percent reduction in tobacco consumption by 2025.

Plain packaging bans the use of logos, colors, brand images or any kind of publicity on tobacco packages. It allows display of names, brands or product names in a standard style of color and font.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Dr. Jawad al Lawati, senior consultant and rapporteur of the National Tobacco Control Committee, said the move is a significant step towards tobacco control measures.

“The MoCIIP decision is based on Ministry of Health recommendations and was being worked on for the last few years.”

He informed that at least 65 percent of the packaging will now include a public health warning, picture and a message to quit, while the rest will have the brand name.

“The brand name will be in a standardized font and color, based on regulations of the MoCIIP decision,” he added.

According to WHO, tobacco packaging is a mobile billboard promoting the consumption of tobacco products. ‘If you strip back the decoration, gloss and misleading elements of tobacco packaging, you are left with little more than a box of deadly, addictive products that kill approximately 6mn people a year and harm the health of many more.’

Meanwhile, in Canada, the government introduced mandatory health warnings on tobacco use to be printed on individual cigarettes from August this year, becoming the first country to target smoking reduction through advertisements on cigarette filters.

As part of the new regulations, the government said it will require labels on the tipping paper, which is the outermost paper of the filter section, of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, along with other tobacco products. The labels will be written in English and French.

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