World No Tobacco Day is coming up on May 31, but there is little reason for cheer.
One of the largest trade fairs in the tobacco industry, the World Tobacco Asia 2014, is set to take place in Singapore in November, after being rejected by Indonesia.
As a party to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Singapore is required to meet its obligations under Article 13 of the FCTC.
The WHO states that a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship should cover:
All advertising and promotion, as well as sponsorship, without exception;
Acts that aim at promotion and acts that have, or are likely to have, a promotional effect;
Promotion of tobacco products and the use of tobacco; Commercial communications and commercial recommendations and actions;
Advertising and promotion of tobacco brand names and all corporate promotion.
Holding the fair would result in Singapore contravening the above obligations under Article 13.
After successfully hosting the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in 2012 and pledging to reduce smoking prevalence to below 10 per cent by 2020, staging the tobacco industry's trade show here would be absurd.
The fair is not a closed-door event accessible exclusively to industry players. Members of the public would inadvertently be exposed to otherwise banned tobacco advertising.
How can the Health Sciences Authority ensure that tobacco products which are prohibited in Singapore would not be imported, promoted and given out as samples at the fair?
How can the authorities prevent such illegal products from being surreptitiously sold here after the trade show ends?
The Government must remain resolute in its stand against tobacco and protect Singaporeans from all forms of tobacco promotion without exception.
Letter by Liu I-Chun (Ms)
This article was first published on May 26, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.