Senate OKs bills on tobacco warning, INC and Robredo holidays, 3 others
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading six measures, including a bill that would require picture-based health warnings on tobacco products.
The six are Senate Bill No. 27 known as the “Picture Based Health Warnings Law;” Senate Bill No. 2273, or the “Act Amending Sec. 21 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act;” Senate Bill No. 2159, or the “Act Liberalizing the Entry and Scope of Operations of Foreign Banks in the Philippines,” and Senate Bill No. 2211, or the “Act Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Purchase of Brand New Vehicles.”
The Senate also passed on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 1281, declaring August 18 as “Jesse Robredo Day,” a special working holiday commemorating the late public servant, and House Joint Resolution No. 12, declaring July 27, 2014 as a special non-working holiday “to commemorate the founding anniversary of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon said the passage of the bills was “concrete proof of the Senate’s strong legislative performance, which continues to improve even amid issues.”
“The approval of six bills, including four landmark legislation, shows that legislation remains the Senate’s focus, and that we are able to effectively deliver on our commitment to pass bills that will raise the quality of life for the Filipinos,” Drilon said in a statement.
Under the Picture Based Health Warning Act, “tobacco products have to display picture-based health warnings in full color with accompanying text warnings on 50 percent of their principal display surfaces,” said Senator Pia Cayetano, principal author and sponsor, in the same statement.
The prescribed size of the warning was set following an amendment introduced by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
Under the bill, cigarette packages are prohibited from “bearing any descriptors or numbers such as, but not limited to “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” or “mild” or “extra” or “ultra” and similar terms that claims or misleads a consumer to believe that a tobacco product or variant is healthier, safe or less harmful.”
“No cigarette packs or other tobacco packages shall contain information that may imply that one variant or brand is healthier, less harmful or safer than the other,” the bill further states.
Cayetano said the imposition of graphic health warnings at the front part of cigarette packages was aimed at deterring smokers from “starting the vice and being addicted to it as well as encourage existing smokers to drop the habit.”
The warnings, she said, will show the dangers of tobacco smoking or passive smoking.
Drilon, co-author and co-sponsor of the measure, said it was necessary to address the “estimated P188 billion in annual health care expenses and productivity losses that cigarette smoking is responsible for.”
The text warning accompanying the picture would be appropriately worded “so that an ordinary layman will understand what the picture is about – the ill-effects of smoking,” the Senate leader added.
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