Reconsider ‘regressive’ plain packaging plan, Asean intellectual property body tells Putrajaya

The Health Ministry told Malay Mail Online last week that Malaysia was planning to implement plain packaging for tobacco products. — AFP pic
The Health Ministry told Malay Mail Online last week that Malaysia was planning to implement plain packaging for tobacco products. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — The Asean Intellectual Property Association (Asean IPA) has urged Putrajaya to reconsider its proposal to introduce plain packaging for tobacco, calling such a move “regressive”.

In a statement issued today, Asean IPA said that such a proposal by the Health Ministry would have repercussions on intellectual property in Malaysia.

Asean IPA president Chew Phye Keat said that plain packaging is not a “balanced approach” to deal with health issues.

“We are extremely concerned with the repercussions that would come with such extreme regulations,” Chew said.

“Plain packaging on tobacco products would be setting the precedent for other consumer products as well,” he added.

He said that such a move will cause a spike in contraband cigarettes and will also encourage the emergence of counterfeit products.

“For Malaysia to move forward in its Intellectual Property regime, it must not consider such regressive measures as plain packaging,” he added.

The Health Ministry told Malay Mail Online last week that Malaysia was planning to implement plain packaging for tobacco products, where colours and fonts would be standardised to reduce brand recognition.

Tobacco has been carved out from the investor-state dispute systems (ISDS) provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement that Malaysia has signed, which would protect tobacco control laws from legal challenges by corporations, according to the Health Affairs blog.

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