August 2014 The President of the Philippines signed the Graphic Health Warning Bill (Republic Act 10643: An Act to Effectively Instill Health Consciousness through Graphic Health Warnings on Tobacco Products) into law on 18 July 2014. The law entered into force on 7 August 2014.
The law requires full-color graphic health warnings on the bottom 50% of the front and back of tobacco packages. The law also includes a ban on misleading descriptors. One side panel of the cigarette packs will contain other information, such as additional health warnings, hotlines, or websites for tobacco-related concerns, or tips on how to stop smoking.
A set of twelve different warnings has been developed by the Department of Health in consultation with partners from the government and civil society, and will be changed every 24 months. After the warning templates are published, tobacco manufacturers and importers will have 12 months to implement the warnings; retailers will have an additional 8 months to exhaust stock with the text warnings. The warnings are expected to appear in the market in late 2015 or early 2016. Meanwhile, text warnings covering 30% of the front panel continue to appear on packages. The Department of Health is presently developing further implementing rules and regulations of the law through a drafting committee composed of national government agencies.
The Philippines originally issued an Administrative Order that would require pictorial health warnings and ban misleading descriptors on all cigarette packs on May 24, 2010. According to the Order, the warnings were to occupy the top 30% of the front and 60% of the back of the package. The warnings were to be in place 3 months after the publication of the order (i.e., the end of August, 2010); however, implementation of the warnings was delayed due to five lawsuits from different tobacco companies. The said cases are still pending in the Supreme Court.
More information is available from: Dr. Ivanhoe C. Escartin, National Center for Health Promotion, Department of Health, Philippines (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).