September 22, 2014
NVAP submits photos of tobacco victims for GHW designs
The New Vois Association Philippines (NVAP) has submitted four actual photos of cancer victims to the Department of Health as possible templates for the implementation of the Graphic Health Warning law.
NVAP President Emer Rojas said they have sent to the DOH three photographs of persons with throat cancer and another one with lung cancer that are all members of the organization.
“We are eagerly awaiting the final approval of the templates and the law’s implementing rules and regulations from the health department. We hope that they will be ready soon to commence the 18-month compliance period imposed on tobacco companies,” said Rojas.
Signed by President Benigno Aquino III in July, the GHW law requires the creation of 12 templates of pictorial warnings that will show the harmful effects of smoking. The templates will be released on rotation basis over a span of two years and will cover 50 percent of the bottom part of cigarette packages.
Rojas said the DOH is expected to finalize the templates and the IRR this month. Once released the tobacco industry will be given one year to comply with the law and another eight months to clear its old stocks.
Rojas’ photo was one of four NVAP templates submitted to the health department. A throat cancer survivor, Rojas took up smoking at the age of 17 and was a chain smoker until he was diagnosed with the deadly disease in 2002.
Doctors have removed his vocal cords creating a hole on his neck and disabling him to speak. A former radio broadcaster, Rojas is only able to communicate using an assistive voice device called electrolarynx that produces a robot-like sound when he talks.
Described as a walking graphic health warning, Rojas uses his personal experience to speak about the harmful effects of smoking and its social and economic impacts.
NVAP’s participation in the anti-smoking campaign has strengthened calls for stronger tobacco control in the country. During the sin tax debates in Congress in 2012, members of the organization created a stir when a handful of them stood up and removed the coverings on their necks that bore holes.
Countries that have implemented graphic health warnings use actual images of smokers who have contracted cancer and other deadly diseases associated to smoking.
The idea is to create an emotional and psychological awakening that will encourage users to quit and scare would-be smokers from taking up tobacco use.
“Years of text only warnings on tobacco labels failed to provide the public the right information on the harmful effects of smoking. They were also useless because words are not as powerful as images. Graphic warnings evoke strong emotions and no one can refute them because these are actual images of smoking victims. They were not drawn or designs created by computers. These are actual people with actual health conditions,” said Rojas.
Rojas said graphic warnings are expected to create an impact among poor, less educated smokers and young people who are exposed to picture-based messages.
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), more than one in four Filipino children aged 13-15 years old smoke. Among those in this age group 17.5 percent were girls and 28.3 percent were boys. #