December 10, 2014– Health advocates cry foul after Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) released a series of paid advertisements in major newspapers—a total of 30 paid ads to date. They were quick to point out that Republic Act 9211 (RA9211), or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, mandates that beginning July 1, 2008, all forms of tobacco advertising in mass media shall be prohibited except tobacco advertisements placed inside the premises of point-of sale establishments.
The prohibition against advertisement in RA 9211 covers brand names and manufacturer’s names. Public health think tank HealthJustice Philippines points out that PMFTC clearly violated the law when it used its name in the published ads obviously creating prohibited publicity for its company and/or its cigarette brands.
“PMFTC’s strategy using these ads to promote their company is without question a direct violation of RA 9211. Publishing ads with the tobacco manufacturer’s name and trademark are prohibited under RA 9211. This, undeniably, falls under banned tobacco advertising,” explains Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice.
The print advertisement published by PMFTC cited data from a report by the Senate Tax Study and Research Office (STSRO), which according to PMFTC proves that its rival Mighty has evaded customs duties and import taxes in its questionable business practices. Mighty, on the other hand, has denied any truth to these allegations. PMFTC’s ads bear their manufacturer logo at the bottom.
Over the past months, tobacco companies have been attacking each other for alleged fraudulent business practices. “These companies are slugging it out in the media to the detriment of Filipinos. We are calling for an immediate halt to these underhanded tactics of the tobacco companies in circumventing tobacco control laws. The advertisements are getting bolder and more frequent. So far there has been no action taken to stop this publicity stunt,” Reyes adds.
HealthJustice is also calling on the Inter Agency Committee- Tobacco (IACT), the government arm mandated to implement, enforce, and monitor tobacco control measures and the provisions of RA 9211 to look into these glaring violations and do its duty in safeguarding the lives of the Filipinos against any form of tobacco advertisements.