HealthJustice Philippines, a public health policy think tank and recipient of the Bloomberg Philanthropy Award for Global Tobacco Control, welcome the release of tobacco product packages that contains graphic health warnings, which should be out in the market not later than March 3, 2016, as required by Republic Act No. 10643, otherwise known as the Graphic Health Warnings Law.
“With the recent release of implementing rules and regulations of the Graphic Health Warnings Law, tobacco companies are left with no excuse but to comply with the law on the set March 3, 2016 deadline,” said Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice.
“However, this deadline is only the beginning. Health advocates and the public should be vigilant to watch out for any attempt the tobacco industry may make to circumvent the law,” added Reyes, noting that tobacco companies have made attempts to water down the Graphic Health Warnings Law even while it was still a bill in congressional deliberation.
The deadline comes one year after the Department of Health (DOH) issued the templates to be printed on cigarette packs. The templates comprise of realistic depictions of the ill effects of smoking such as cancer, stroke, and impotence.
“Ten Filipinos die every hour because of tobacco-related illnesses. Graphic health warnings will help lower this statistic by encouraging smokers to quit, and at the same time discouraging non-smokers, especially the youth, from being hooked in this lethal addiction.” Reyes said.
The law provides an eight-month period for tobacco firms to exhaust old stocks that do not comply with the Graphic Health Warnings law. By November 2016, all tobacco product packages sold and distributed in the country must have the prescribed graphic health warnings.