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The Union Asia Pacific Office 2020 Highlights

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  • In Indonesia, the Ministry of Finance released a decree to increase tobacco tax at an average rate of 23% and at an average rate of 35% on tobacco products. In addition to tobacco taxes, the decree also included taxes on foods that contain high amounts of sugar, salt and fat, which are also risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This success was the direct result of effort by The Union, its partners and grantees who have been working closely with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance to increase policy awareness for the benefits of tobacco taxation and tax tier simplification. The full decree is available here in Bahasa Indonesian.
  • The Union worked with local partners including local health offices, civil society, universities and the Indonesia Mayors Alliance to drive progress at the sub-national level:
    • 278 cities/districts adopted 100% smokefree local policies out of 514 local jurisdictions. These policies protect more than 170 million of Indonesia’s population.
    • Five cities (Depok, Kulon Progo, Lamongan, Karangasem, Tabanan) banned outdoor advertising and display of tobacco products at the point-of-sale.


  • The Union supported the Ministry of Health and Sports to issue the Code of Conduct for Ministerial Staff dealing with Tobacco Industries (Directive No.91/2020). The directive applies to all health staff under the jurisdiction of the Ministry including health staff at the subnational level.
  • In 2020, the fourth rotation of Myanmar’s 75% pictorial health warning was implemented by almost all tobacco companies.
  • The Union supported the development of the "Notification of Standardized Packaging for Tobacco Product" which was submitted to the Minister's office and Attorney General Office for approval.
  • At a sub-national level, The Mayor of the Nay Pyi Taw Union Territory issued a notification on smokefree requirements. Smoking is now prohibited in hospitals, clinics, workplaces, public places, playgrounds; education facilities and commercial accommodation, which extends the requirements specified by the national tobacco control law and smokefree notification. Moreover, the wholesalers and retailers in Nay Pyi Taw must fully comply with Pictorial Health Warning requirements and Age Restriction requirements.


  • The Union, with grantee Action Nepal and 23 professional and civil society organisations, coordinated a call on the government to ban smoking to help curb the spread of COVID-19. This lead to the Ministry of Health & Population requesting the Ministry of Federal Affairs (MOFA) and General Administration to impose a complete ban on smoking and tobacco products in public places across the country. Tobacco tax was also increased by 12% on all tobacco products.
  • At a sub-national level, Action Nepal also supported MOFA to instruct all 750 sub-national jurisdictions to include tobacco control programmes withn their health and COVID-19 response plans.
  • For example the Bharatpur Metropolitan was supported the delivery of capacity building workshops on smokefree, the Mayor chaired of the 5th APCAT Summit and the region banned all hookah and shisha bars to help curb the spread of COVID-19.


  • At the national level, the Ministry of Health issued a new rotation of Pictorial Health Warnings (PHWs) focusing on emphysema and heart disease.
  • Across Cambodia 411 tobacco control inspectors have been nominated and trained.
  • At the sub-national level, a tobacco control guideline was developed. The guideline focused on WHO MPOWER, quit smoking counselling and monitoring of smokefree work places and public places, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) ban and PHWs. This led to:
    • 18 provinces monitoring smokefree, TAPS ban and PHWs – a compliance rate of 80% was found
    • Sub-National Tobacco Control Committees in 23 provinces were formed
    • Four capacity building training sessions on tobacco control and regulations were delivered to local authorities in six districts of two provinces
    • 12 new provinces joined the Cambodian Alliance for Tobacco Control (CAT), a sister alliance of Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Tobacco Control and NCDs Prevention (APCAT)


  • In 2020, our work ensured the implementation of Pictorial Health Warnings.
  • Engaged activities were undertaken with policy makers and stakeholders (such as Director of NCDs, Ministry of Health, General Director of Boarders and Port-Ministry of Finance, Head of Cabinet of AIFAESA, Advisor of National Parliament) regarding tobacco taxation increase, including:
    • 22 organisations were mobilised to call for government to increase tobacco tax
    • A policy brief to support tobacco tax increase was developed and submitted to parliament
  • Sub-national tobacco control policies were initiated in two cities, Dili and Ermera.


  • The 5th APCAT Asia Pacific Summit of Mayors was held on 17 December 2020 under the theme “Mayors’ response to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), lung health and tobacco use during COVID-19”. Mayors and sub-national leaders from Nepal, Philippines, Timor-Leste, India, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia came together to share their insights and exchange experiences regarding the response to the COVID-19 crisis as well as Tobacco Control and NCDs Prevention. The packed summit was viewed by over 500 participants from 20 countries internationally. Watch the 5th APCAT summit in full.
  • The summit presented the 5th APCAT declaration, which includes six points to accelerate progress towards eventually ending tobacco, as well as preventing the avoidable burden of COVID-19, NCDs and communicable diseases and thereby averting untimely deaths.