The Department of Health (DOH) has delayed the enforcement of graphic health warnings (GHW) on cigarette packs, designed to curb tobacco use through scary lung disease-related visuals. Instead of the original November 2015 enforcement date, it will take effect on March 3, 2016, according to a report published in the DOH website.
Alexander Padilla, chair of the DOH-GHW Law Implementing Rules and Regulations committee, explained that the implementation of the rule has been moved due to amendments made in the previous templates it released.
Padilla said: "GHW shall take effect one year after the templates were published. But there was a delay because the original templates released (on November 5, 2014) by the DOH were amended. So the new deadline now is based on second publication."
He added that eight months after the implementation, manufacturers and retailers must remove all cigarette packages not containing warnings in the market. Otherwise, they'll be penalized with fines and/or imprisonment.
Image from www.hurth.atspace.eu
Meanwhile, health advocates expressed their dismay over the failure of the DOH.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Health Justice Philippines Atty. Karla Rocas-Dejelo said: "If you read section 18 of RA 10643, it states that there should be no delays in implementing this law. It says this is urgent. It needs to be implemented immediately."
"It's been delayed for four months already," she added. "How many Filipinos could we have saved?"
Earlier this year, the DOH released a study that showed that 240 Filipinos die from tobacco-related diseases each day. GHWs are used to help discourage individuals from smoking. These images include people suffering from mouth cancer, stroke, gangrene, emphysema, throat cancer, impotence, neck cancer, premature birth, and low-birth weight of babies of smoking mothers.