By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
All cigarette packs in the country should feature graphic health warnings starting Friday, November 4, the Department of Health (DOH) reiterated on Wednesday, November 2.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial stressed this as the Republic Act 10643 or the Graphic Health Warning Law will be fully implemented as scheduled on Friday to discourage people from smoking.
The law mandates all tobacco products being sold in the country to carry graphic health warnings in the lower portion of cigarette packs covering at least 50 percent of both sides.
The DOH has approved a total of 12 templates or images of actual health effects of smoking to be used in the packages.
Emer Rojas, president of health group New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), also reminded the manufacturers, distributors, retailers and even mere sari-sari store owners to comply with the law or face penalties.
NVAP also cited data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which showed that all six local manufacturers have already complied with the DOH-prescribed templates as of May 25, 2016.
According to NVAP, 17.3 million Filipino adults puff an average of 11 sticks a day, making the Philippines one of two nations in Southeast Asia with the highest smoking population.