Muscat – Oman has been recognised for its tobacco control efforts by the United Nations. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health received the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of NCDs Award in a ceremony held virtually on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Dr Abdullah al Harthi, Senior Consultant in Accident and Intensive Care Surgery, received the award on behalf of the Minister of Health.
The award acknowledges Oman’s continuous efforts and commitment to multispectral action for the prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases by implementing plain packaging for tobacco products on a national level.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Dr Jawad al Lawati, senior consultant and rapporteur of the National Tobacco Control Committee, said it “really is a great achievement for Oman”.
This, he added, was because the award is given “purely in the field of tobacco control”.
Dr Lawati informed that in March this year, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) issued a decision on Omani Standard Specification (OS 1655:2022) on plain packaging of tobacco products, and deemed it a binding Omani standard specification.
“It shows Oman’s commitment to strong tobacco control,” he said.
The move was appreciated by the World Health Organization office for the Eastern Mediterranean, describing Oman’s action as ‘significant and pioneering’.
Plain packaging bans use of logos, colours, brand images or any kind of publicity on tobacco packages.
Dr Lawati further informed that the MoCIIP decision was based on Ministry of Health recommendations, and was being worked on for the last few years.
At least 65% of the packaging will now include a public health warning, picture and a message to quit, while the rest will have the brand name.