Press Release
March 1, 2019

Koko wants plain packaging for all cigarettes sold in PH

In order to increase the effectiveness of health warnings, Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has filed a measure requiring plain packaging for all tobacco products being sold in the country.

In filing Senate Bill No. 2191, Pimentel said studies conducted in countries where plain packaging laws have been enacted and implemented showed that more smokers have attempted to quit smoking, among other indications that health warnings were more effective.

Almost all countries have adopted legislation to curb and regulate the production and sale of tobacco, the Philippines included.

"The Philippines has kept pace with other nations in this regard, enacting laws that regulate where people can smoke, how tobacco is advertised and what health warnings must be displayed on cigarette packs," he said.

"Yet despite these developments, the Philippines has been tagged as the second largest tobacco consumer in Southeast Asia. More troubling is the fact that a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that among Filipino students ages 13 to 15 years, 12 percent admitted to smoking cigarettes while 14.5 percent admitted to using other tobacco products," Pimentel said.

"Of those older than 15 years, the prevalence of tobacco product use was 24.7 percent with daily users at 18.9 percent," Pimentel added.

While the said WHO study indicated an improvement compared to figures in 2009, which showed 28 percent or 17.3 million of Filipino smokers were aged between 15 and older, the senator said clearly more still needs to be done.

The bill aims to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products, eliminate the effects of tobacco packaging as a form of advertising and promotion, address package design techniques that may suggest that some products are less harmful than others and increase the noticeability and effectiveness of health warnings, Pimentel said.

His proposed measure will be applicable to locally-manufactured and imported products introduced in the Philippine market.

The graphic health warning which is mandated by RA 10643 will still be displayed but the packaging or the appearance of the cigarette pack will have to comply with the requirements -- in black color, no decorative ridges or any other embellishments and the brand name will be in color white.

Failure to comply with the said requirements will subject the products for confiscation by the authorities while manufacturers and distributors of the tobacco products will be slapped with monetary penalty ranging from P500,000 to P2 million, imprisonment of not more than five years and revocation of business permits and licenses.

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