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PIA Press Release

DOH urges Congress to pass graphic health warning bill on cigarette labels

by Lovely Laudette D. Gamba

Butuan City (2 October) -- Amidst clamor from the international community for the Philippines to comply with the graphic health warnings on cigarette labels of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Department of Health (DOH) urges Congress to pass the graphic health warning bill on cigarette labels.

The department enlisted the help of the media in advocating to the public the urgency of passing the Graphic Health Warning bill in the Philippines during the Third Quarter Media Forum on Tobacco Control at Davao City recently.

Legislative bills (SB2377 and HB3364) have been filed on both Houses of Philippine Congress that will mandate the use of picture warnings instead of plain text warnings on no less than 50 percent of both the front and back surfaces of tobacco packages.

The bills are aimed at presenting a more accurate depiction of real life debilitating diseases caused by tobacco smoking through strong pictorial warning messages.

However, the bills are met with strong opposition from the tobacco industry who according to DOH are influencing the legislators not to pass the said bills.

DOH believes that the bill could substantially reduced costs to human life and health, for both smokers and non-smokers. It is considered as the most cost effective method of informing the public of the risks of continued tobacco use.

Research studies have shown that requiring graphic health warnings on cigarette packs is one of the best measures to prevent people from nicotine addiction. Picture warnings serve as one of the fundamental strategies employed in tobacco control. Countries like Canada, Uruguay, Thailand and Singapore are effectively implementing it and have documented considerable decrease in consumption of tobacco.

Recent research strongly indicates that with picture warnings on cigarette packages, would-be smokers will refrain from buying them, while current smokers are encouraged to quit. Evidently, picture warnings can cause reduction in the prevalence of tobacco use.

DOH argued that there should be no problem in the implementation of the law because the tobacco industry has been using three or five color printing in its packaging. The department further argued that the tobacco industry is already printing graphic warning design in cigarette labels in other countries, so why not in the Philippines? (PIA-Caraga) [top]

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