MANILA, Philippines – British American Tobacco (BAT), maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes, is opposing several provisions on the proposed graphic health warning bill.
BAT Philippines general manager James Lafferty said that while he is supporting the bill, graphic health warnings should only occupy 50 percent of the cigarette pack and not the proposed 60 percent.
He said that with a 60:40 ratio, brand labels of cigarette manufacturers may not be easily identified by the public.
Lafferty also opposed the bill’s provision that gives manufacturers a three-month grace period to affix the oversized health warning images on cigarette packs.
“It takes time to implement this thing, you can’t say after 60 days of the law, every country must be cleaned. The date should begin in certain months after production,” he said.
“At least 12 months from the time implementing agency comes up with the pictures, not 12 months after the signing of the law,” he added.
Apart from mandating a percentage size of images of tobacco-related ailments, the proposed Senate measure also seeks to mandate a specific pack size for cigarette products.
Only the packaging for longer cigarettes or “100s” will qualify, which means any size smaller than what was prescribed in the bill will be illegal.
However, the local tobacco market is mostly made up of regular-sized cigarette brands with fewer “100s” brands.
National Tobacco Administration administrator chief Edgardo Zaragoza earlier said the agency “will abide by provisions of any law that may be enacted relative to the administration and regulation of the tobacco industry related to health."
But Zaragoza noted that legislation or any program related to the tobacco industry will affect those “engaged in production, trading, processing and marketing of tobacco and tobacco products.”