Asked its opinion, DOJ tells Palace smoking is bad
MANILA, Philippines–Yes, smoking is bad for you.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had this response to Malacañang’s request for a Department of Justice (DOJ) comment on the Graphic Health Warnings Law, a measure awaiting the signature of President Aquino, a longtime smoker, after the measure was ratified by Congress last month.
In a position paper dated July 7 and sent to the Palace the following day, De Lima said “we fully support the passage” of the consolidated Senate and House versions of the law, which aims to discourage cigarette smoking through graphic photos showing the ill effects of the habit on smokers.
Health groups supporting the bill estimate that smoking kills up to 240 Filipinos each day.
“Evidently, the current text warnings have proven to be insufficient in conveying the dangers of tobacco use,” De Lima said in her two-page opinion addressed to Michael Aguinaldo, deputy executive secretary for legal affairs at Malacañang.
“The subject legislation took into consideration the fact that, despite numerous public reports on the health consequences of tobacco use, smokers still tend to underestimate the severity and magnitude of the health risks. Consequently, warning labels should contain clear, direct and accurate messages depicting the hazards of tobacco use,” she said.
President Aquino is an admitted smoker whose speeches are often interrupted by coughing fits. He has been advised even by members of the Philippine Medical Association to curb the habit. He has taken off-time on occasion to recuperate from coughs and colds believed brought on by smoking.
Congress ratified the bill on June 11, approving the bicameral conference committee report on the measure. The bill aims to elevate public health warnings on cigarette packs from mere texts to pictures depicting the deadly effects of smoking, including photos of cancer-stricken organs.
In her opinion, De Lima noted that the bill was “in consonance” with Section 15, Article 2, of the Constitution which mandates that “the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and shall instill health consciousness among them.”
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