South Korean tobacco-makers and retailers expressed their opposition to the Health Ministry’s new antismoking policies, which require all firms to fix health-warning illustrations on their cigarette products, claiming the government is interfering with their rights to product design.
The new measures, scheduled to be implemented starting later this year, requires health warnings consisting of text and images to be printed on the top 50 percent of the front panels of all cigarette packages. Also, when displayed in stores, the products must show the front panel with warning graphics to the potential customers.
“Asking us to fix stickers to the upper part of the packs is unreasonable, and the government is interfering with our rights to product design,” said a group of South Korean tobacco-makers in a statement.
“Now almost all cigarette products will look identical to each other thanks to the new policy.”
The Korea Tobacco Retailer Association also expressed their opposition to the new antismoking measures.
“We don’t think the government should interfere with the way we display products in our own stores,” the organization said in a statement.
The warning illustrations show tobacco’s harmful effects as well as health conditions that may be triggered by heavy smoking, including heart disease, lung cancer and possible birth defects.
In spite of the opposition, the Health Ministry said it had no plans to revise the proposal. Some 80 countries overseas require cigarette products to have warning illustrations, and of them, 63.8 percent make it mandatory for the warnings to appear in the upper portion of the packs, the ministry explained.
In South Korea, home to almost 10 million smokers, an estimated 57,000 die every year due to smoking-related diseases, including lung cancer.
In 2014, the parliament approved an 80 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, from 2,500 won ($2.17) per pack to 4,500 won, in an effort to curb smoking. The new bill took effect on Jan.1, 2015.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org