Philippines: Countdown on Nov 5 deadline for PHW has begun

Tobacco control advocates have begun the countdown for the tobacco industry in the Philippines to apply pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs starting 5 November. The tobacco industry is notorious for its non-compliance and delay in implementation of PHW.

A joint statement was issued by HealthJustice, New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) and SEATCA, calling upon the Philippines government to implement the PHW law, Sections 6 and 15 of the Republic Act No. 10643, which gives tobacco manufacturers no more than one year from the issuance of the initial set of templates to comply with the printing the PHW.

It’s not that complicated – 4 companies – Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp, Mighty Corp, Japan Tobacco Int. and BAT – who sell cigarettes to 98% of the 17 million smokers, must obey the law. These multi-billion dollar companies make their profits from the poor – 60% of Filipino smokers buy cheap cigarettes costing less than Ps35.00 (US$0.75) per pack.

PMI and JTI are currently manufacturing cigarettes packs in the Philippines with large-sized PHW for export to Thailand (85%) and Malaysia (50%). However it is expected that these companies will use technicalities and other shenanigans to delay and not comply with the law.

Large graphic health warnings are effective and are being used all over the world. PHW counters the tobacco industry’s efforts to glamorize the pack and smoking, and deceive the public into thinking that smoking is not harmful.

The tobacco industry does not give a toss about the 240 deaths every day in the Philippines caused by its product. The Philippines government must stand firm in the implementation of the law and not give any leeway to any company to delay. As Health Justice said, the Philippines is already seven years late in complying with the requirements under the WHO FCTC.

Graphic warnings on cigarette packs due:   

For information on health warnings in ASEAN: