Tobacco firms have 20 months to fully comply with graphic health warnings law
MANILA - Public health groups and medical associations have already chosen 22 “gory” and “effective” photos to be placed on cigarette packs following the enactment of the Graphic Health Warning Law in July. However, Filipinos will have to wait for Health Secretary Enrique Ona to sign an administrative order approving the photos, the template of the cigarette packs, and the guidelines of the law before the graphic health warnings are finally rolled out.
This is according to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), public health think tank HealthJustice, and the office of ANG NARS partylist Representative Leah Paquiz, who outlined the long waiting period in a recent media briefing.
Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, project director of SEATCA Southeast Asia Initiative on Tobacco Tax, explained that tobacco companies would have a year to comply with the law after the administrative order is released. By then, they would have begun producing the cigarette packs with graphic health warnings.
They were also given an eight-month extension on top of the one-year period to sell all their old stocks. Thus, it would take 20 months after the administrative order is signed before all cigarette packs in the country finally bear graphic health warnings.
“We are really looking forward to the graphic health warnings and we really hope that it is released soon. The sooner it is released, the sooner the Philippines will be exposed to graphic health warnings that will educate them about the harms of smoking,” said Atty. Patricia Miranda of HealthJustice. Miranda serves as counsel for public interest cases against the tobacco industry.
According to political affairs officer Anna Kapunan, who works for the office of ANG NARS partylist Representative Leah Paquiz, the photos chosen by the panel of experts also went through focus group discussions held by the Department of Health.
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