New graphic health warnings should already be on cig packs – Health group

HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control, reminded the public that the second set of Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) should already appear on all kinds of tobacco packaging and labelling this March.

“The Graphic Health Warnings Law mandates that graphic health warnings on cigarette packs be changed on a periodic basis to prevent the public from being immune to the effects of seeing the images. Please be on the lookout for the second set of graphic health warnings, which, by law, should already appear on cigarette packs by March 3, Friday,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice.

Republic Act No. 10643 or The Graphic Health Warnings Law of July 15, 2014 requires all cigarette packs being sold to carry graphic health warnings showing the harmful effects of smoking both to the smoker and those who may inhale the secondhand smoke. The law imposes penalties on tobacco manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, and sellers for the its violation.

RA 10643 states that the purposes of such warnings are to “effectively warn of the devastating effects of tobacco use and exposure to second hand smoke”; “remove misleading or deceptive numbers or descriptors like low tar, light, ultra lights or mild which convey or tend to convey that a product or variant is healthier, less harmful or safer; and “further promote the right to health and information of the people”.

Fernandez Mendoza also pointed out that “under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the global health treaty to which the Philippines is a Party, we ought to implement rotating graphic health warnings on all tobacco packaging and labelling”.

The WHO FCTC recognizes pictorial health warnings as a “cost-effective means to increase public awareness about the dangers of tobacco use.” 

Over 113 countries or jurisdictions have already finalized their requirements for the implementation of a graphic health warnings law.

In the Philippines, 240 people die every day due to smoking-related diseases. 

HealthJustice Philippines is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts and organizations working to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.

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