MANILA — The New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) is reminding cigar makers that they are also covered by the Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law, which is set to be fully implemented on Nov. 4, this year.
According to NVAP President Emer Rojas, cigarette products are not the only ones covered by Republic Act No. 10643 but also other tobacco products available in the country.
“Cigar makers are also sternly reminded to follow the existing GHW Law as they are also covered by it. They have to put picture-based warnings on the hazardous effects of smoking cigars,” Rojas, an engineer, said.
Under R.A. 10643, all tobacco products packaging available in the country must bear GHWs as well as an accompanying textual warning that is related to the picture.
The law defines tobacco products as those entirely or partly made of leaf tobacco as raw material, are manufactured to be used for smoking, sucking, chewing, or snuffing, or by any other means of consumption.
“While cigars may not be as popular in the country as cigarettes, its threat to one’s health is equally high and could also lead to similar smoking-related illnesses,” warned Rojas.
Cigars are products made up of a single type of air-cured or dried tobacco, are larger than cigarettes, and do not have filters.
It is also found to contain a higher level of nicotine than cigarettes and is absorbed through the lungs as quickly as it is with cigarettes.
Studies have shown that cigar smoking, like cigarette smoking, is linked to cancers of the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, larynx, lung, pancreas, and bladder cancer, as well as gum disease, and sexual impotence in men.
Aside from cigars, other tobacco-based products are bidis, kreteks, and smokeless tobaccos (chewable and snuffed).
As provided by the law, by Nov. 4, 2016, all tobacco product packages sold and distributed in the country must have the prescribed GHWs, which are placed in the lower 50 percent of both sides of the packages.
Last March, the country already started implementing the first phase of the law’s implementation, wherein tobacco manufacturers are already prohibited from coming out with cigarette packs that are without picture health warnings.
The law, however, provides an additional eight-month period for tobacco firms and retailers to exhaust old stocks that only bear the old text-only warnings.
Rojas called on all stakeholders to do their part in ensuring the effective implementation of the GHW Law.
He said the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-T) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) must strictly do their part in monitoring the compliance of the tobacco industry as well as address complaints of violations.
“IAC-T should monitor compliance with the law and institute the appropriate action for any violation upon any sworn written complaint while the DTI shall hear complaints filed by the IAC-T or any private citizen,” stressed Rojas.
On the other hand, the NVAP head said the public must not hesitate in reporting non-compliant manufacturers or distributors or sellers of tobacco product packages that are without GHWs once the full implementation started to roll or by Nov. 4.
“Hinihiling ko po ang suporta ng ating mamamayan upang maisakatuparan ang ninanais ng Graphic Health Warning Law na maiwasan ang pagdami ng mga addict sa ‘yosi’ sa ating bayan,” said Rojas.
In the Philippines, an estimated 10 individuals die every hour due to smoking-related diseases.