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Senate Bill 2147 requires picture-based warnings on hazards of tobacco smoking

Alas my prayers as well as other anti-smoking advocates’ prayers were answered. A press release on the Philippine Senate’s website says a bill has been filed that, once it becomes a law, will require the “cigarette manufacturers to print on the packages of their products colored pictures to warn the people of the HAZARDS of tobacco smoking to human health.”

Senate Bill 2147 or the Picture-Based Health Warning Act is authored by Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino Pimentel who said:

“This bill seeks to effectively instill health consciousness through picture-based health warnings on tobacco products,”

“The use of prominent, colored and graphic picture-based warnings is a very effective means of conveying to the public in general and to smokers in particular, the hazards and ill-effects of tobacco use, including those associated with second-hand smoke.”

Bravo! Now if only more members of Congress will do their jobs and propose bills that will really serve the interests of the people then this country would be on its way to genuine progress.

Sends strong signal to youth smokers

Sen Pimentel cited figures from the World Health Organization-Global Youth Tobacco Survey that says 27 percent of Filipino teenagers aged 13-15 smoke cigarettes. Which means an increase by 30 percent in the number of youth smokers since 2006.

What are picture-based health warnings?

smoking causes lung disease
The bill defines what picture or graphic-based health warnings as:

warning labels that consist of a photographic picture on health dangers or other problems related to tobacco use or exposure to tobacco smoke and an accompanying textual warning that is related to the picture, as issued by the Department of Health.

Giving more teeth to the DOH

Also, the Department of Health will be given the sole authority to enforce and administer the provisions of this bill once it becomes a law. Those include, among others as:

  • issue the necessary rules and regulations
  • including the imposition of fines on violators
  • issuance of subpoenas
  • confiscation of non-complaint tobacco packages

This is good because if there would be any controversies in the implementation of this future law, like corruption or bribery from tobacco companies etc, investigations would be easier since there would only be few government agencies to scrutinize and make liable. Heck, if the President would be be involved, it could be a good basis for impeachment.

Stiff penalties

Those who will be held liable for violations of the proposed law are tobacco manufacturers, importers, exporters and distributors of tobacco products, as well as their agents/representatives.

Penalties include:

  • first offense: not more than P1 million
  • second offense: P5 million
  • third offense: P20 million or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both at the discretion of the court

This bill will greatly boost the anti-smoking campaign in the country. I urge all of us to support this bill and see it through to its passage into law. Blog about this, mention this to your friends, family and co-workers. Get in touch with our Senators, thank them for all their hard work and urge them to pass this bill into law.

Get involved. Secure our health. Stop smoking.

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