Anti-smoking advocacy group, New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), has expressed wariness over the prolonged period of implementation of Republic Act 10643.

According to NVAP President Emer Rojas, the graphic health warnings (GHW) made mandatory by the RA 10643 is now needed more than ever with the rise of lung cancer as the new leading cause of cancer death among women abroad.

“We are alarmed with the latest development of lung cancer already overtaking breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States,” said Rojas.

“With the current delays in the implementation of the law, more people get sick and more lives are lost,” he furthered.

Earlier this month, the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer research revealed that lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death among women.

Lung cancer has already been the top cancer killer among men for several decades worldwide.

Researchers believe that the latest development in lung cancer clearly showed that the tobacco use epidemic has already gripped women.

In 2012, the Department of Health (DOH) noted the growing number of Filipinas smoking in the country.

The Philippines rose to 16th place in the Top 20 Female Smoking Population in the World 2008 from only occupying 26th place in the 2006 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).

The marketing strategy utilized by the tobacco firms is to make the product more attractive to women such as making the cases colorful as well as adding flavoring like mint and chocolate.

The DOH released the GHW templates that will be used in cigarette and other tobacco product packages on October 28, 2014. However, the implementing rules and regulations are yet to be completed.

The law being signed already by President Aquino in July 2014. With RA 10643, tobacco manufacturers are now mandated to place picture health warnings showing the negative effects of smoking in cigarette packages.

The law states that the release of the GHW templates shall mark the start of the one-year period given to tobacco manufacturers to comply with the law.

Aside from the 12 months grace period, the RA10643 also provides an additional eight months to retailers to exhaust the old stocks in the market which do not have picture warnings.

“The IRR of the GHW law must be released soon and the law be implemented as soon as possible to curtail the rising trend of lung cancer especially among women in the Philippines,” said the anti-smoking advocate.