The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday reminded tobacco firms that they could no longer manufacture or import cigarette packs without the mandated graphic warnings starting Thursday, the implementation date of the Graphic Health Warning (GHW) law.
Health authorities told cigarette companies that they have eight months or until Nov. 3 to make sure that all their products without picture-based warnings are removed from the market.
“Unfortunately, we will still see the old packaging in the market because the only prohibition effective [today] is that they can no longer import or store in their warehouse cigarette products without the GHW printed on the packaging,” said Alex Padilla, head of the GHW Implementing Rules and Regulations Committee, in an interview with Inquirer.
“The absolute prohibition on actual retail sale will be on November,” added Padilla.
The GHW law requires that graphic photos bearing the ill effects of smoking occupy 50 percent of the packs of tobacco products as a way to deter people, especially the youth, from starting the vice and to encourage smokers to kick the habit.
Padilla said the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue will play a “critical role” in ensuring that tobacco firms comply with the law.
“They have a system that will prevent the release [of cigarette packs without GHW] from the warehouse because they also provide the stamps that will prove that [the products] went through the tax process,” he added.