Health group dares candidates: ‘Denounce dirty tactics of the tobacco industry!’

Public health policy think tank and Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control HealthJustice Philippines urges candidates to categorically denounce the “dirty tactics of the tobacco industry.”

“We already know their stand on important issues such as hunger, education and climate change. Now we want to hear them speak about an equally important issue— the dirty tactics of the tobacco industry,” says Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice.

“10 Filipinos die every hour due to smoking-related diseases, and the tobacco industry intends to keep it that way. They are always on the lookout for opportunities to corrupt and bribe officials to allow them to skirt the laws. We need leaders who will assure us that under their leadership, undue favours will not be granted to the number one enemy of public health,” Reyes added.

According to the website of World Health Organisation (WHO), “The tobacco industry has used its economic power, lobbying and marketing machinery, and manipulation of the media to discredit scientific research and influence governments in order to propagate the sale and distribution of its deadly product.”

Tobacco companies around the world are being accused of using their resources to dilute and derail implementation of tobacco control laws, such as the RA 9211 or Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 and the Sin Tax Law, which was enacted in 2012. It was also only in March 2016 that graphic health warnings law in the Philippines were implemented, making the country over seven years late in fulfilling its obligation under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI) also sits as the representative of the tobacco industry in the Inter-Agency on Committee on Tobacco (IACT), the government body tasked to lead the implementation of RA 9211.

“Taking a stand against the tobacco industry means taking a stand in favour of the health of the Filipino people, especially the youth. Our candidates should let us know as early as now whose side they are on,” said Reyes.