FOLLOWING the publication of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 10643 — the Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law — tobacco-control advocacy groups have joined forces to pressure tobacco companies to strictly comply with the law.
Yesterday was the deadline for compliance with the law following a year-long grace period for tobacco companies from the time last year when the Department of Health (DoH) issued templates to be printed on cigarette packs.
“With the recent release of implementing rules and regulations of the GHW Law, tobacco companies are left with no excuse but to comply with the law by today’s March 3, 2016 deadline,” said lawyer Irene Reyes, managing director of HealthJustice Philippines — which has banded together with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP), New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), in urging the enforcement of the law.
According to Ulysses Dorotheo of SEATCA, “The 12-month grace period given to the tobacco industry to print graphic health warnings is very much longer than what’s been required in other countries that have even bigger GHWs, such as Nepal (90%), Thailand (85%), Uruguay (80%), and Brunei and Canada (75%), which all gave the industry only 6 months or less to comply. Sri Lanka (80%) and Jamaica (60%) gave the industry as short as three months to comply. The tobacco industry should have no excuse to delay implementation.”
The law also provides an additional eight-month period for tobacco firms and retailers to exhaust old stocks that do not comply with the GHW law. By November 2016, all tobacco product packages sold and distributed in the country must have the prescribed graphic health warnings.
Early this week, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Vital Strategies, and the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance sent a letter to DoH Secretary Janette Garin commending the Philippines for implementing the health warnings law.