Starting today, all tobacco products shall bear graphic health warnings which show the ill effects of smoking as the Department of Health (DOH) launches the full implementation of the Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law on tobacco products.

“We already gained so much from our serious efforts to control tobacco use in the country. With the Sin Tax and the GHW laws, we believe that many Filipinos will hesitate if not stop smoking altogether,” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said.

The law prescribes printing of GHW on fifty percent (50%) of the principal display surfaces of any tobacco products and shall occupy fifty percent (50%) of the front and fifty percent (50%) of the back panel of the tobacco package; and shall be printed in four colors.

The Health Secretary likewise cites Administrative Order No. 2014-0037 as a clear basis of the date of implementation as it requires “graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and other tobacco product packages one (1) year after the issuance of the templates by the Department of Health.”

The GHW has proven effective in warning people on the devastating effects of tobacco use and exposure to second hand smoke. It also aims to remove misleading or deceptive descriptors like “low tar”, “light”, “ultra lights”or “mild”which convey that a tobacco product is healthier, less harmful or safer.

Administrative fines shall be imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for non-compliant packages or any violation of the GHW Law or Republic Act 10643. Proceeds of administrative fines shall be used for health promotion campaigns on tobacco control of the DOH and the Department of Education.

According to the World Health Organization Bulletin, “taken as a whole, pictorial warnings are more likely to be noticed than text-only warning labels; more effective for educating smokers about the health risks of smoking and for increasing smokers’ thoughts about the health risks; and associated with increased motivation to quit smoking.”

The 2015 Philippine Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) reported 1 out of 4 or 16.5 million adults currently smoke tobacco: 42% of men and 6% of women. This was 19% lower than the 29% smoking prevalence in 2009. (Philippine GATS survey)

“We enjoin everyone to be vigilant and make sure that all tobacco products carry these pictorial warnings and that violators be reported to the respective government agencies. Above all, through these warnings, we want to inform everyone that smoking puts to waste human potentials,” Secretary Ubial concluded.