Graphic Health Warning Law takes effect today

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 07 2014 04:53 AM | Updated as of Aug 07 2014 12:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The new law requiring graphic health warnings on cigarette packages takes effect today but compliance is not expected until the Department of Health (DOH) releases the necessary templates, an anti-smoking group said yesterday.

New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) noted that the Graphic Health Warning Law gives tobacco companies a year from issuance of the necessary templates to comply and an additional eight months to sell all the cigarette packs without graphic health warnings.

NVAP president Emer Rojas said the new law mandates the DOH to issue the templates a month after it was signed or by July 23, but the DOH announced that it hopes to come out with the templates and the law’s implementing rules and regulation (IRR) on Sept. 6.

“The law is supposed to take effect already, but we can only feel its presence 20 months after the templates have been released by the Department of Health,” Rojas pointed out.

For this reason, Rojas urged the DOH to issue the templates early because the compliance of tobacco companies and the impact of the law depend on it.

Under the law, the DOH is tasked to issue a maximum of 12 templates of graphic health warnings to be printed simultaneously on cigarette packs.

The graphic health warnings shall be rotated periodically for each brand family and also for each variant, so that every 24 months the variations of the warnings shall appear in the market with equal frequency.

Earlier, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Graphic Health Warning Law along with the Sin Tax Law would dramatically reduce the number of smokers in the country, especially among the youth.

“Studies have shown that the graphic warning can effectively discourage young people from getting into smoking. The law may not be able to significantly reduce the overall number of smokers, but what is important is the youth,” he said.