Drilon to Congress: Decrease smoking deaths, OK anti-smoking bill

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon renewed his call for an intensified campaign to reduce smoking incidence in the country, as he appealed to his colleagues for a speedy passage of the bill that requires tobacco companies to display graphic labels on their products depicting the health consequences of smoking.

Various bills including Senate Bill No. 499, or the “Picture-Based Health Warning Act of 2013”, authored by Drilon, were filed in the Senate in 2013 aiming at “increasing the awareness of the cigarette consumers on the harmful effects of smoking.”

Under the bill, tobacco products have to display picture-based health warnings with accompanying text warnings that will be printed on at least 60 percent of the principal display surfaces for any tobacco package.

The proposed act “is necessary in order to strengthen the government’s efforts to discourage smoking,” said Drilon, who is a resolute anti-smoking advocate.

“I therefore assure the respective committee that is hearing the proposed measure and the public of our support for the immediate passage of this bill in order to advance our effort to discourage the millions of youth from trying to smoke,” he stressed.

Drilon has been active in furthering anti-smoking policies in the country, foremost among which is the passage of the Sin Tax Reform Act in 2012.

Despite such advances, Drilon has reiterated the bill’s importance after voicing alarm over the fact that the Philippines still registers as having one of the highest smoking incidences in the Western Pacific Region.

Drilon stated that the bill’s urgent approval will be a welcome and effective step in making the public aware of the real effects of smoking to one’s health.

“It has been proven that a graphic-based warning is more effective than a text-based warning. By strategically placing meaningful graphic images along with text warnings to cigarette cartons and other tobacco products, we hope to effectively deter smoking in the same way that other countries where this system have been set in place were able to reduce the incidence of smoking in their respective jurisdictions,” explained Drilon.#