Smoking Philippine leader OKs cigarette warnings

July 20, 2014 by Jim Gomez
In this July 14, 2014 file photo, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III walks to interact with his guests following his address to the nation in a live broadcast from the Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines. The Philippine president, a known smoker, has signed a law that requires tobacco companies to put scary health warnings on cigarette packs in a country where tens of thousands of people die every year from tobacco-linked diseases. President Aquino's spokesman, Herminio Coloma Jr., said Sunday, July 20, 2014 that the Philippine leader signed the law "to effectively instill health consciousness through graphic health warnings on tobacco products." (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

(AP)—Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, a known smoker, has signed a law requiring tobacco companies to put graphic health warnings on cigarette packs in a country where tens of thousands of people die every year from tobacco-linked diseases, an official said Sunday.

Aquino signed the law Friday "to effectively instill health consciousness through graphic health warnings on tobacco products," presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said. With the law, the Philippines joins more than 40 other nations and territories that have adopted similar regulations and brought the battle against smoking to the cover of cigarette packs.

Research has suggested that the scary warnings have prompted some to quit smoking, but the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 6 million people continue to die globally each year from smoking-related causes. The tobacco industry has fought government efforts to introduce or increase the size of graphic warnings in some countries.

The Philippine law was not immediately made public, but legislation approved by lawmakers last month required 50 percent of the bottom of cigarette packs, front and back, to be covered by graphic pictures and illustrations of smoking hazards such as damaged lungs and throats.

Anti-tobacco advocates welcomed the law rather cautiously.

Emer Rojas, a laryngeal cancer survivor who heads an anti-tobacco group in the Philippines, said the law would discourage would-be smokers and reduce tobacco consumption, but added it was a compromise that also accommodated the concerns of tobacco companies.

"It's like seeing poison on a pack," Rojas said. "This will save many from smoking, especially the young."

He called for vigilance, saying there were provisions in the law that may allow tobacco companies to interfere in the law's enforcement.

The Philippines is a tobacco producer and smoking haven, with one of Asia's highest smoking rates. It had some of the lowest prices for tobacco products before a "sin tax" law took effect last year.

A recent Department of Health-commissioned survey indicated that the law helped reduce smoking among the poor and young people.

Philippine health officials said in 2012 that 17.3 million of the country's 96 million people smoke—one of Southeast Asia's highest rates—and that 87,000 die each year from tobacco-related diseases.

Aquino has been criticized by anti-tobacco advocates for refusing calls to give up the habit. After winning the presidency in 2010, he said he discussed his smoking habit in one of his first telephone conversations with President Barack Obama, who told him then that he had kicked the habit.

"Mr. President, I understand we have the same issue with smoking," Aquino said he told Obama at the time. "He said, 'Well, I quit that already. I have quit. It's your sole problem. At the time that you decide to quit, I'll send the advice."

Explore further: Philippines may soon make smoking warnings graphic (Update)

Related Stories

Philippines may soon make smoking warnings graphic (Update)

June 10, 2014
A Philippine legislative committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would compel cigarette manufacturers to print illustrations of smoking hazards on cigarette packs to curb smoking in a country where tens of thousands die ...

Philippines raises tobacco, alcohol taxes

December 20, 2012
The Philippines Thursday raised tobacco and alcohol taxes in a reform President Benigno Aquino hailed as helping to liberate "more Filipinos from the vices of smoking and drinking".

More countries adding graphic warnings to smokes

June 27, 2014
Indonesia became the newest country to mandate graphic photo warnings on cigarette packs on Tuesday, joining more than 40 other nations or territories that have adopted similar regulations in recent years.

Philippines closer to tobacco, alcohol tax hike

November 21, 2012
The Philippines has moved closer to raising tobacco and alcohol taxes, the government said Wednesday after the Senate passed a bill aimed at weaning millions of smokers off the habit.

WHO urges Philippine senate to defy tobacco lobby

July 27, 2012
(AP) — The World Health Organization urged Philippine senators Friday to resist tobacco industry pressure and pass legislation to boost cigarette taxes to help deter smoking in a country where tobacco-related disease ...

The bigger the better: Cigarette warning labels prompt quit attempts

July 10, 2014
Cigarette warning labels can influence a smoker to try to quit even when the smoker is trying to avoid seeing the labels, according to a survey of thousands of adult smokers in four countries published by the American Psychological ...

Recommended for you

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 20, 2014
a pox upon all nannies.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.