Akbayan today is pushing for a 100% compliance to graphic health warning labels on cigarette packages by tobacco companies.
“After almost a decade of waiting for the enactment of the Graphic Health Warning Law and another year for its IRR, we are happy that the long-awaited implementation of this important health policy to bring down the high number of cigarette smokers, especially among youths, is finally becoming a reality,” said Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, who is one of the principal authors of the measure.
The statement was made following the announcement of DOH reminding tobacco companies that the manufacture and distribution of cigarettes without the mandated graphic health warnings on their packages are no longer allowed as of March 3, 2016.
“We also urge DoH to be fully on guard against potential violations to ensure that there is 100% compliance by all tobacco companies,” Gutierrez said.
The graphic health warnings are intended to help increase awareness and instill health consciousness among the public about the dangers of smoking and, thereby, contribute in reducing the incidence of smoking: motivating smokers to quit and prevent young people from initiating smoking, Gutierrez said.
According to the 2009 Global Adult Tobacco Survey, an estimated 28 percent, or 17.3 million Filipino adults aged 15 years and older, are daily smokers.
Tobacco Atlas also noted that more than 71, 850 Filipinos are killed yearly due to tobacco-related diseases, while more than 505, 600 children and 15, 570, 000 adults continue to use tobacco each day.
According to the GHW law, also known as RA 10643, the penalties shall individually apply to manufacturers, importers, and distributors of tobacco products as well as their agents/representatives for acts violating the provision of the health warnings, as provided:
(1) On the first offense, a fine of not more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00);
(2) On the second offense, a fine of not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00); and
(3) On the third offense, a fine of not more than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) or imprisonment of not more than five (5) years, or both, at the discretion of the court: Provided, That the business permits and licenses, in the case of a business entity or establishment shall be revoked or cancelled.
If the guilty officer is a foreign national, he shall be deported after service of sentence and/or payment of applicable fines without need of further deportation proceedings and shall be permanently barred from re-entering the Philippines.
Joining the global fight against cigarette smoking
In 2005, Philippines became a signatory to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a treaty binding member-states to pass laws and measures aimed to protect public health from the dangers of tobacco use.
The enactment of the Graphic Health Warning in 2014 also allows us to comply with our international obligations under the Convention, Gutierrez concluded.###