LOOK: New graphic health warnings on tobacco products starting 2018

Mara Cepeda
LOOK: New graphic health warnings on tobacco products starting 2018

Mara Cepeda

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says the law mandates changing the templates every two years because smokers eventually become 'immune' to the graphic health warnings

MANILA, Philippines – The public should expect new templates warning them about the dangers of cigarette smoking starting this month. 

This is because the Department of Health (DOH) started rolling out the new graphic health warnings on all tobacco products starting Saturday, March 3. The templates will have English and Filipino translations.

The move is in compliance with Republic Act No. 10643 or the graphic health warning law, which orders the DOH to draft new templates every year since the law was first enacted in March 2016

The lower portion of both sides of a cigarette pack will now contain new templates warning smokers on the diseases and complications they may develop, including gangrene, mouth cancer, neck cancer, stroke, asthma, premature birth, and still birth. 

The law mandates that the graphic health warnings must be found in at least 50% of both sides of a cigarette pack.

According to the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey, about 15.9 million or 22.7% of adult Filipinos smoke tobacco. Daily cigarette smokers consume 11 cigarettes per day on the average.

Another 3.6 million Filipino adults or about 21.5% are exposed to secondhand smoke at the workplace, while 24 million or 34.7% get exposed to secondhand smoke at home. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III explained that changing the graphic health warnings every two years will prevent smokers from getting used and immune to the intended effect of the templates. 

“The old ones, [the smokers are already] saturated [with them]. And they’re somehow numbed or immune to it. So they just ignore those old graphic warnings. So part of the strategy really is to ensure that you have new graphic health warnings each time,” said Duque. 

The Bureau of Internal Revenue is tasked to monitor tobacco companies’ compliance with RA 10643. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.