Thailand OKs bigger warnings on cigarette packs

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BANGKOK (AP) — A court in Thailand has given the go-ahead to a new regulation requiring packs of cigarettes sold in the Southeast Asian country to be 85 percent covered with graphic health warnings.

Public Health Ministry executive Dr. Nopporn Cheanklin said Friday that the change will take effect in September.

Currently, warnings illustrating the dangers of smoking must cover 55 percent of each pack of cigarettes sold in Thailand. Last year, the health ministry issued a regulation increasing the level of coverage to 85 percent.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris and more than 1,400 Thai retailers sued, and a court temporarily suspended the order. On Thursday, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the regulation can take effect before a lower court reaches a final verdict in the lawsuit.

Opponents have argued that such warning labels are ineffective and put the burden on cigarette makers.

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