DOH seeks LGUs help in enforcing law on tobacco sale
Local government units (LGUs) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) should help ensure strict compliance to the Graphic Health Warning (GHW) law on tobacco products, the full implementation of which took effect yesterday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
“In terms of enforcing the law at the street level or community level, it will be the LGUs and the MMDA that will do that,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial told a press conference.
“Starting today, all tobacco products shall bear graphic health warnings which show the ill effects of smoking,” Ubial stressed yesterday.
Ubial stressed that the LGUs and the MMDA have important roles in ensuring that all cigarette packs being sold in the streets and “sari-sari stores” are compliant to Republic Act No. 10643.
She explained that the DOH would have to rely on LGUs and the MMDA in monitoring compliance with the law, particularly for tobacco products being sold in sari-sari stores as well as those peddled by so-called “takatak” boys or those peddling cigarettes by the stick in the streets.
“We are closely coordinating with the MMDA and the LGUs on the law’s enforcement,” Ubial said.
In addition, the DOH chief appealed to the public to do their part in ensuring that the GHW law would be fully complied with by tobacco companies by reporting noncompliance.
“We enjoin everyone to be vigilant and make sure that all tobacco products carry these pictorial warnings and that violators be reported to the respective government agencies,” said Ubial.
She said the public may call the DOH hotline (02) 7111001 or (02) 7111002; or the President’s hotline 8888; or to their local government units.
The law mandates the printing of GHW in full colors on 50 percent of the packaging of any tobacco product.
“We already gained so much from our serious efforts to control tobacco use in the country. With the Sin Tax and the GHW laws, we believe that many Filipinos will hesitate, if not stop smoking altogether,” said Ubial.
Asked how much they expect the full implementation of the GHW law to affect smokers, the health chief said they would conduct a formal assessment two years from now.
“The DOH is planning to have an impact assessment of the GHW after two years so that we can really document the impact of these interventions among the Filipino community,” said Ubial.
Nevertheless, she reiterated that several studies done in other parts of the country can prove its efficacy.
“According to the World Health Organization, pictorial warnings are more likely to be noticed than text-only warning labels; more effective for educating smokers about the health risks of smoking and for increasing smokers’ thoughts about the health risks; and associated with increased motivation to quit smoking,” noted Ubial.
Administrative fines shall be imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry for noncompliant packages or any violation of the GHW Law. Proceeds of administrative fines shall be used for health promotion campaigns on tobacco control of the DOH and the Department of Education.
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