Health groups in the Philippines have reminded the government and the public that graphic images and warning texts should be printed on the labels of all tobacco products by Nov. 5, in compliance with the Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law, according to a story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Sections 6 and 15 of the GHW Law, or Republic Act (RA) No. 10643, give tobacco manufacturers no more than one year from the issuance of the initial set of templates to comply with the printing requirements, according to a statement issued jointly by HealthJustice, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance and New Vois Association of the Philippines. Irene Reyes, managing director of HealthJustice, said the department of health published the templates in November 2014.
“The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to which the Philippines is a party, mandates governments, within three years of entry into the agreement, to pass and implement a law requiring tobacco products to carry effective health warnings,” Reyes said.
Under RA 10643, which was signed into law by President Aquino last year, all tobacco products in the Philippines must display a photographic warning accompanied by text printed on 50 percent of principal display surfaces, such as the front and back of cigarette packs. The law also prohibits the use of “misleading” terms such as “light,” “mild,” “low tar” or other words that suggest a particular variant is less harmful.
The deadline for the Philippines to implement graphic warnings and text was September 2008, making the country seven years late in fulfilling its obligation.
The Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has started an audit on the tax payments of cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp., reports ABS-CBN News.
BIR personnel have been assigned to Mighty’s manufacturing facilities to ensure they are complying with tax payments.
The investigation follows allegations that the company has been underdeclaring its production volume, resulting in billions of pesos in foregone revenues for the government.
Mighty produces the Mighty Menthol and Mighty Filter brands. In February, it defended its pricing as a “marketing” strategy and noted that the company pays no royalties to foreign parents, giving it a cost advantage.
British American Tobacco will double its purchases of Philippine tobacco as it plans to invest more than $50 million in the country this year, reports The Manila Bulletin.
James Lafferty, general manager of BAT Philippines, said the company will buy 3.6 million kg of Philippine tobacco, valued at between $12 million and $14 million, in the 2012-2013 planting season.
Following the passage of tobacco tax reforms in late 2012, BAT Philippines announced the company would invest at least $200 million in the Philippines over five years starting in 2013.
The company intends to grow its market share, introducing new Lucky Strike variants and other brands. It is also looking into constructing a cigarette factory in the Philippines.
BAT currently employs 300 people directly and indirectly across the country.
The Philippine health department warned the public on April 12 against e-cigarettes, saying the tobacco substitute could turn children into smokers.
E-cigarettes have been gaining favor among Filipinos as higher tobacco taxes make smoking more expensive, according to a story in the Manila Times.
Food and Drug Administration director-general Kenneth Hartigan-Go disputed what he said were claims by vendors that e-cigarettes helped smokers kick the habit.
“Wittingly or unwittingly, the electronic cigarette promotes smoking among children and the youth. It makes them less fearful of hazards and risks of smoking,” he said in a health advisory posted on its website. “The public is advised not to smoke at all and not to use cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigarettes,” added Hartigan-Go.
Nearly one in five Filipinos smokes, according to the health department.
A law that came in effect this year will gradually raise the tax on cigarettes over five years, which would roughly double the price per pack to about PHP52 ($1.27) by 2017.
A basic e-cigarette kit in the Philippines costs as little as $24, featuring a battery-powered vaporiser that delivers a nicotine-laced mist.