Philippine President Aquino, a smoker, signs law for graphic warnings on tobacco products

Philippine President Benigno Aquino speaks at the conference Daylight Dialogue: The Good Governance Challenge at the presidential Malacanang Palace in Manila on July 15, 2014. Philippine President Benigno Aquino, who has been criticised for his
Philippine President Benigno Aquino speaks at the conference Daylight Dialogue: The Good Governance Challenge at the presidential Malacanang Palace in Manila on July 15, 2014. Philippine President Benigno Aquino, who has been criticised for his own inability to quit smoking, has signed a law requiring tobacco companies to print graphic warning pictures on packets, his spokesman said on Sunday, July 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino, who has been criticised for his own inability to quit smoking, has signed a law requiring tobacco companies to print graphic warning pictures on packets, his spokesman said on Sunday.

The bill signed on Friday has long been campaigned for by health advocates but is opposed by the tobacco industry.

It requires companies to devote about half the space on packets to warnings including photographs of internal organs ravaged by smoking.

The Philippines has long had a conflicted attitude towards smoking, with the government trying to discourage it even as it encourages a politically powerful tobacco-growing industry.

In 2013, Aquino signed a "sin tax" bill dramatically raising the taxes on tobacco products.

The Philippines is the latest devloping country to follow Western nations in requiring shock pictorial health warnings.

A similar Indonesian law came into force in late June, but was initially widely ignored.

According to a 2009 survey, 28 percent of adult Filipinos are smokers.