Health advocates urged government officials to protect tobacco-control laws from efforts of tobacco companies to weaken their implementation.
“Passing the sin tax law and the graphic health warnings law is only the beginning. Tobacco companies have tried to block and weaken these laws during legislative deliberations and up to now continue to interfere with implementation,” said Atty. Patricia Miranda of HealthJustice.
In a press statement, HealthJustice quoted the World Health Organization as saying that “tobacco companies manufacture and sell a product that, if used as intended, kills over half of their regular customers—a whopping six million each year.”
“In the case of the graphic health warning (GHW) bill, tobacco companies meddled to water down key provisions that were meant to save lives. I filed for graphic health warnings as big as 80 percent of cigarette packs. The Lower House version was reduced to only 40 percent. Fortunately, the version that was signed into law requires 50 percent, ensuring that Filipinos will have access to information about the harms of smoking,” said Ang Nars Rep. Leah Paquiz.
Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) said, “Whether it’s sin tax or graphic health warnings, the strategy of tobacco companies is the same, they pretend and claim to be ‘stakeholders’ in order to interfere in the development and implementation of public health laws meant to regulate them. They should not be allowed to do this because their commercial and vested interests as an industry selling deadly products run counter to our government’s constitutional mandate to save and protect people’s lives.”
Meanwhile, HealthJustice said that “of the 17 million Filipino adults today that smoke, half will end up suffering or dying from tobacco-related diseases.”