We did it for cigarettes, why not for alcoholic beverages?
Back in the 12th Congress, we passed the Tobacco Regulation Act of which I was one of the authors. One of the provisions that I strongly pushed for was that of putting health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products, advising people about the harmful effects of smoking tobacco.
Recently, I filed a bill proposing the installation of health warnings at designated smoking areas in order to raise awareness about the dangers of cigarettes among smokers.
This time, I am proposing for the labeling of alcoholic beverages with a health warning about the effects of drinking alcohol.
There is no doubt and it has been scientifically and medically proven that consumption of alcohol either impairs the body function and health of humans.
Consider these harmful effects, as attested by the World Health Organization:
• Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represent 5.3 % of all deaths.
• The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions.
• Overall 5.1 % of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
• Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life. In the age group 20–39 years approximately 13.5 % of the total deaths are alcohol-attributable.
• There is a causal relationship between harmful use of alcohol and a range of mental and behavioral disorders, other noncommunicable conditions as well as injuries.
• The latest causal relationships have been established between harmful drinking and incidence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as the course of HIV/AIDS.
Alcohol is also addicting, with alcoholism plaguing society in the same way as narcotics addiction. Both are substance abuse which lead to disease and mental health problems.
But unlike cigarettes which have an effect mainly on the user and to those in close proximity, alcohol can cause harm or even death to others because of its effect on the person consuming the substance.
For example, the statistics on deaths due to victims of drunk driving can be said to be of epidemic proportions if it were a disease. Lives lost and ruined, families broken, and perpetration of crime are but some of the examples of negative effects brought about by alcohol consumption.
Countless times, crimes were proven to have been committed by persons who were under the influence of alcohol.
In filing House Bill No. 4059, I seek to mandate the labeling of alcoholic beverages with a health warning that will ensure that persons consuming alcohol are adequately informed of the dangers to health of drinking alcohol.
The proposed measure also covers establishments that sell mixed alcoholic beverages such as cocktails and other similar concoctions, requiring the inclusion of health warnings at the section of the menu where mixed alcoholic drinks are listed.
Violators of the provisions of the law will be penalized with a fine of One Million Pesos (PhP1,000,000.00) for the first offense, Two Million Pesos (PhP2,000,000.00) for the second offense and Three Million Pesos (PhP3,000,000.00) and a revocation of license on the third offense.
Government must be consistent in how it deals with what is determined to be harmful to people. In taxing the “sin products”, we applied the policy for both alcohol and tobacco, even using the health angle as a justification.
So if we have placed health warnings on cigarettes, so should we do the same for alcohol.