Tobacco panel issues rules for graphic health warning law

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco finally came out yesterday with the implementing rules and regulations that will govern the initial implementation of Republic Act 10643 or the Graphic Health Warning (GHW) law.

Under the law, all local cigarette manufacturers cannot release their products from warehouses if the packages do not show the GHW or picture warnings starting March 3. A similar deadline was also given for all imported cigarettes that will come out of the Bureau of Customs.

After eight months or on Nov. 3, all of the cigarettes being sold in the market must be in packages that have GHWs. At least 12 picture warning templates were given by the Department of Health for tobacco manufacturers to use. 

On principal display surfaces, the IRR requires that all cigarette packages and other tobacco product packages, including package inserts and onserts and any outside packaging and labeling, must have the GHW on 50 percent of the lower portion of the principal display areas or surfaces.

It also requires the side panels to have the additional information prescribed by the DOH, which may include additional health warnings, hotlines or websites for tobacco related concerns or tips on how to stop smoking, on at least 30 percent of the display surface of one side panel.

A violation by the manufacturers, importers and distributors of tobacco products may mean a fine of not more than P500,000 on the first offense, and P1 million on the second offense.

A fine of not more than P2 million or imprisonment of not more than five years or both shall be imposed at the discretion of the court on the third offense. The business permits and licenses, in the cases of business entity or establishment, may also be revoked or cancelled. 

“If the guilty officer is a foreign national, he shall be deported after service of sentence and/or payment of applicable fines without need of further deportation proceedings and shall be permanently barred from re-entering the Philippines,” the IRR provides.

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