April 27, 2011
Pictorial warnings on the packaging of tobacco products sold in Malta will be mandatory next Wednesday, although the authorities are concerned that non-compliant cigarette packets may still remain exposed for sale then.
The warnings have been introduced through a legal notice which was issued in 2009 and which brings Malta in line with EU regulations.
The new warnings may include colour photographs from a library compiled by the European Commission and have to cover at least 45% of the external area of the most visible surface of the packet. The warnings will be changed at least once a year to ensure their impact is not softened.
Many graphically show the potential health effects of smoking, while others may urge people to seek help to stop smoking, providing a telephone number they can call.
They replace the text-only warnings which have been standard for a number of years, and aim to provide a more powerful deterrent effect.
The new cigarette packets have already started to appear on the market, but the Environmental Health Directorate within the Public Health Regulation Department observed that “monitoring of the local market evidently indicates that various amounts of cigarette packets not bearing the combined the pictorial health warnings may still remain exposed for sale” after the new warnings become mandatory.
It warned that retailers which fail to comply with legislation face legal action, and urged them not to accept further non-compliant tobacco products and ensure that all non-compliant stock they currently possess is removed from sale by June 22.
Source: www.di-ve.com (April 25, 2011)