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STATEMENT ON GRAPHIC HEALTH WARNINGS FOR TOBACCO


PRODUCTS

As medical students, we encounter literally hundreds and thousands of patients
who suffer the ill-effects of smoking. Four days ago, when the legislation on the
inclusion of graphic pictures on cigarette packs was approved, we could not
be any happier for this is a milestone in our advocacy towards uplifting the
health of our fellow Filipinos.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today,
responsible for more than five million deaths each yearone in ten adults
worldwide.

WHOs package of MPOWER strategies to reduce tobacco consumption and
are detailed in Article 12 of the international tobacco control treaty known as
the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), compelling the
Philippine government as signatory to implement the same measures
nationwide.

Size and location makes a difference. Health warnings and messages on
tobacco product packaging and labeling should be about 50% of the principal
display areas. Graphic Health Warnings (GHW), particularly pictorial health
warnings, has the most impact on smokers and nonsmokers based on the best
available science and real world experience. GHWs work better than text only
labels among people with both high and low health literacy.

GHWs inform smokers about the health hazards of smoking, encourage
smokers to quit, and prevent nonsmokers from starting to smoke. Warning
labels on tobacco products are an ideal way of communicating with smokers.
Since the intervention is delivered at the time of smoking, nearly all smokers
are exposed to warning labels and pack-a-day smokers could be exposed to
the warnings more than 7,000 times per year. Given the reach and frequency
of exposure, warning labels have the potential to have a significant impact on

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smoking behavior. Furthermore, two-thirds of all smokers indicate that the
package is an important source of health information and health knowledge is
strongly associated with intent to quit smoking.

In addition, GHWs decrease the attractiveness and appeal of cigarettes and
help to create an environment where non-smoking is the norm. It also counters
the alluring and persuasive images the tobacco industry uses to market their
products. At least 63 countries have implemented GHWs on cigarette packs.
Sadly, the Philippines is not included in this list. In ASEAN, Myanmar and
Philippines remain the only countries who do not implement this measure.

Even though tobacco products are legally available to adults, the paramount
public health aim is to reduce the number of people who use and become
addicted to these products. The Asian Medical Students Association
Philippines (AMSA Philippines) asserts that the current warnings are inadequate
and when measured against an informed choice standard, are woefully
deficient in terms of proper public health criteria. We push for the adoption of
a legislation which will ensure that the most effective warnings will reach across
all target audience in the Philippines.

The government is first and foremost FOR the people. Hence, provisions must
be ensured to be in favor of the publics good, not the profit of the tobacco
industry.

We hereby appeal to the legislators to fight for the rights of our people and to
reject the tobacco industrys unreasonable proposals for small warnings.

We, the future healthcare providers, put our good faith in you to support this
bill and not be deterred by the sways of the tobacco industry up to the point
of this laws adoption and implementation.