Graphic Health Warning compliance on cigarettes awaits IRR
Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)  says it cannot compel tobacco firms to roll out cigarette packs bearing health warnings unless the implementing rules and regulations of the Graphic Health Warning (GHW) Law have been approved and finalized.

The law, which requires graphic photos showing the ill effects of smoking on cigarette packages, has yet to be implemented even if the law has been enacted in July 2014.  It is intended to encourage smokers to kick the habit.

According to the BIR, the lack of IRR has led to a delay in enforcing RA 10643.

“As of now, we can not tell them (referring to tobacco companies) to put graphic health warnings on their products without the IRR,” BIR commissioner Kim Henares said.

About four or five of the nine-member GHW IRR panel have yet to sign the guidelines.

Tobacco firms have assailed the allegation of anti-tobacco groups led by New Vois Philippines, that industry players have resorted to delaying tactics to stop the enforcement of the law.

Industry observers, however, said it is the tobacco companies themselves that are pressing the government to issue the IRR with barely a month to go before the law takes full effect on March 3.

“We’re not surprised that the signing of the IRR is taking too long even after it was finished in October last year. The group tasked to have it signed by member departments is led by anti-tobacco advocates who might have figured out that sans the IRR, the tobacco industry will grind to a halt,” the industry source said.

The Philippine Tobacco Institute earlier said the delayed issuance of the IRR could negatively impact the industry.

“If the IRR is not issued, the local industry may be prevented from producing and withdrawing finished goods to the market due to the limited time to prepare with the implementation date fixed on March 3,” PTI president Rodolfo Salanga said.

The IRR drafting committee comprises the Departments of Health, Trade and Industry, Justice, Finance, Environment and Natural Resources, Science and Technology, Education, Agriculture,  and the  National Tobacco Administration.

ACIRC BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE DEPARTMENTS OF HEALTH ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES GRAPHIC HEALTH WARNING INDUSTRY IRR KIM HENARES NATIONAL TOBACCO ADMINISTRATION NEW VOIS PHILIPPINES TOBACCO
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