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The Philippines became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on June 6, 2005.

Smoke Free Places: In the Philippines, smoking is completely banned in enumerated public places and workplaces such as healthcare, educational institutions, and facilities frequented by minors. In other public places and workplaces, including bars and nightclubs, designated indoor smoking areas and ventilation options are allowed under the national law. All government facilities and public land transportation vehicles and terminals are smoke free. Sub-national jurisdictions are allowed to have smoke free laws that are more stringent than national law.

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: Direct advertising through most forms of mass media is prohibited, but tobacco companies can still advertise at points of sale and provide free distribution of tobacco products, among other promotional activities. Tobacco companies are prohibited from publicizing their sponsorship of sports, concert, and cultural arts events and from engaging in government-related sponsorships.

Tobacco Packaging and Labeling: Currently, health warnings are text-only and cover 30 percent of the front of the package. A new law was passed in July 2014, which will require graphic health warnings on 50 percent of each of the principal display areas of tobacco product packaging. The new requirements will go into effect in 2016.

Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation: Republic Act No. 9211, also known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, is an omnibus law governing smoking in public places; sales to minors; packaging and labeling of tobacco products; and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.  The Inter-Agency Tobacco-Committee issued Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (Rep. Act No. 9211).  Like the law to which the rules apply, the Committee’s Rules and Regulations are comprehensive and cover a broad range of topics on tobacco control. In addition to the advertising, promotion and sponsorship provisions in Rep. Act No. 9211 and the Inter-Agency Tobacco-Committee’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, the Consumer Act of the Philippines (Rep. Act No. 7394) addresses false, deceptive, or misleading advertising in general. 

Smoke free policies are further governed by two circulars issued by the government: (1) Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board of the Department of Transportation and Communications Memo. Circular No. 2009-036 (regarding smoking in public utility vehicles and land transportation terminals) and (2) Civil Service Commission Memo. Circular No. 17, s. 2009 (regarding smoking in all areas of government premises, buildings, and grounds).  Each of these circulars was issued pursuant to Rep. Act No. 9211.

Issued in May 2010, Administrative Order No. 2010-0013 requires graphic health information to be displayed on tobacco packaging and prohibits the use of misleading information that directly or indirectly create or are likely to create the false impression that a tobacco product or brand is less harmful than any other tobacco product or brand. However, before the Administrative Order took effect, tobacco companies filed various lawsuits in several cities to challenge the validity of the Administrative Order. As of the date of this review, the Administrative Order has not been implemented.

The Graphic Health Warnings Law, Republic Act No. 10643, was approved in July 2014 and, once in effect, will require graphic health warnings on 50% of each of the principal display areas. The Department of Health issued the graphic health warning templates in October 2014 and manufacturers will have 14 months (June 2016) to comply with the new requirements.

In June 2010, the Philippines’ Civil Service Commission and Department of Health issued the first-of-its-kind Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2010-01 on the Protection of the Bureaucracy Against Tobacco Industry Interference, which, among other measures, provides specific guidelines for interactions with the tobacco industry. In May 2010, the Department of Health issued Department Memorandum No. 2010-0126, which is aimed at protecting the department and all attached agencies against tobacco industry interference. The Department of Education issued a similar order (No. 6) in January 2012. In addition, the Omnibus Elections Code of the Philippines (Batas Pambansa Blg. 881) prohibits the use of cigarettes as election propaganda. 

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products has been challenged by the Philippine Tobacco Institute and is currently being litigated. In March 2011, the Department of Health, in consultation with the FDA, published new implementing rules defining how tobacco products will be regulated.

Review Status

This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.

Last updated: July 24th 2014
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