BAT opposes proposal on graphic warnings
Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - British American Tobacco (BAT), one of the world’s largest cigarette companies, is objecting to a number of provisions of a proposed measure that would require tobacco firms to display graphic war-nings on cigarette packs.

James Lafferty, general manager of BAT’s Philippine unit, said that while the group backs the display of picture-based warnings on cigarette packs, the image should be limited to just 50 percent of the pack instead of the proposed 60 percent.

Occupying more than half of the pack would make it difficult for consumers to identify the cigarette brands, he said.

Aside from this, Lafferty also sought a longer period for tobacco producers to release the new packs bearing graphic health warnings.

“It takes time to implement this thing. The date should begin in certain months after production. At least 12 months from the time the implementing agency comes up with the pictures, not 12 months after the signing of the law,” Lafferty said.

Apart from mandating a percentage size of images of tobacco-related ailments, the proposed Senate measure also seeks to mandate a specific pack size for cigarette products.

Other concerns raised by the tobacco industry were the provisions on allowable minimum packaging size and the requirement to remove descriptors from cigarette labels, among others.

These measures are aimed at showing the health consequences of smoking to discourage Filipinos, especially the youth from starting up the vice.

The Philippines is registered as the 15th largest consumer of cigarettes in the world.

The adult prevalence of tobacco use in the country is at a high 28.3 percent, the second highest in the ASEAN region, only next to Indonesia.

About 80 percent of Filipino households in the poorest segment have at least one member who smokes.

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