Last updated: May 23rd 2022

Summary

The Philippines became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on September 4, 2005.

Smoke Free Places

Smoking is prohibited in enumerated indoor public places and workplaces such as government facilities, healthcare and educational institutions, and facilities frequented by minors, while designated smoking areas are allowed in other public places and workplaces, including bars and nightclubs. Smoking is prohibited in public land transport, aircraft, and public transport terminals. Public watercraft may have designated smoking areas. 

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship

Many forms of tobacco advertising and promotion are prohibited, though tobacco advertising and promotion at points of sale and free distribution of tobacco products, among other promotional activities, are allowed. There are some restrictions on tobacco sponsorship and the publicity of such sponsorship.

Tobacco Packaging and Labeling

Rotating and combined picture and text health warnings are required to be placed on 50 percent of each of the principal display areas of tobacco product packaging. Misleading terms such as “light” and “low” are prohibited on tobacco product packaging, but other misleading packaging (e.g., colors, numbers, and symbols) are not prohibited.

Cigarette Contents and Disclosures

The law does not grant the authority to regulate the contents of cigarettes. The law does not require that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.

Sales Restrictions

The law prohibits the sale of small packets of cigarettes and the sale of tobacco products within 100 meters of schools, playgrounds, and other facilities frequented by minors. In addition, the law restricts sales via vending machines. There are no restrictions on internet sales or the sale of single cigarettes. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 21.

E-Cigarettes

The law allows the retail sale of e-cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited where smoking is prohibited, which includes public conveyances and enumerated indoor public places and workplaces. There are several restrictions on e-cigarette advertising and promotion and sales in specified locations. Sales are prohibited to persons under the age of 21. Flavors other than “plain menthol” and “plain tobacco” are prohibited. In addition, combined picture and text health warnings are required to cover 50 percent of the front and back of e-cigarette packaging, with enforcement deadlines for manufacturers and importers in May 2022 and for retailers in July 2022. 

Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation

Republic Act No. 9211, also known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, is an omnibus law regulating smoking in public places, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and sales restrictions, among other requirements. The Inter-Agency Tobacco-Committee issued Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003. The Committee’s Implementing 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 Implementing Rules and Regulations, the Consumer Act of the Philippines (Rep. Act No. 7394) addresses false, deceptive, or misleading advertising in general. 

Public smoking restrictions are further regulated by two circulars: (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). Executive Order No. 26 of 2017 imposes strict standards for designated smoking areas (DSAs), imposes duties on persons in charge of public places, prohibits advertising outside point of sale retail establishments, and addresses some other sales and advertising restrictions.

The Graphic Health Warnings Law, Republic Act No. 10643 and the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10643 regulate the packaging and labeling of tobacco products. Department of Health Administrative Order No. 2014-0037, as amended by Department of Health Administrative Order No. 2014-0037-A, establishes the templates of the first set of required graphic health warnings. The second set is contained in Administrative Order No. 2014-0037-B. The third set is contained in Administrative Order No. 2019-0009.

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. Several other government departments have issued rules and further guidance implementing this circular.

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products has been challenged by the Philippine Tobacco Institute and is 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.

In 2020, FDA obtained jurisdiction to regulate e-cigarettes under Republic Act No. 11467. Also in 2020, a Joint Memorandum Circular No. 003-2020 was issued by the Department of Finance, Department of Health, Department of Budget and Management, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. It contains the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Heated Tobacco Products and Vapor Products (e-cigarettes) under Republic Act Nos. 11346 and 11467. It regulates issues such as minimum sales age, prohibitions on flavorings, health warnings, and responsibilities of government agencies. FDA has issued several measures to regulate e-cigarettes including, Administrative Order No. 2020-0055 (Regulation on Vapor Products and Heated Tobacco Products), Administrative Order No. 2021-0054, which contains the first set of pictorial health warnings required to appear on the packaging of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products beginning in May 2022 for manufacturers and importers and July 2022 for retailers, and Administrative Order No. 2021-0051, which provides guidelines on graphic health warnings required to appear on the packaging of e-cigarettes.  

Review Status

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