Philippines - DOH warns government agencies to avoid partnerships or accepting donations from tobacco manufacturers..

May 17, 2010 - The Department of Health (DOH) today, May 14th strongly urged all government agencies to refrain from establishing partnerships with and accepting donations from tobacco manufacturers as this goes against the country’s commitment to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

DOH also warned that accepting donations from cigarette companies under the guise of “corporate social responsibility" (CSR) also undermines the country’s partnership with the WHO. “These donations and partnerships are packaged as corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of the tobacco industry," Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral.

Apart from undermining the Philippines’ position with the WHO, CSR activities involving indiscriminate display of the tobacco manufacturer’s name or brand name may constitute a prohibited form of advertising under Republic Act 9211, Cabral said.

RA 9211 bans cigarette and tobacco companies from sponsoring any sport, concert, cultural or art event which involve the advertisement of tobacco products.

Those restrictions, however, were not able to deter the tobacco industry from advertising its deadly products, albeit through alternative methods, the health secretary said.

She cited a 2008 article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer which detailed how tobacco giant Philip Morris garnered seven top awards during the 43rd Anvil Awards of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. She also noted a photo last year showing a college student being crowned as Miss Virginia Tobacco 2009 in the weeklong Tobacco Festival of Candon City, Ilocos Sur.

“A stricter implementation of RA 9211’s provisions on advertising and promotions, which will plug the loopholes currently being used by the tobacco industry, can help save a lot of lives in the future," Cabral said.

Meanwhile, the 2009 Philippines’ Global Adult Tobacco Survey showed that seven out of 10, or 71.2 percent of Filipino adults noticed pro-cigarette advertising during the past 30 days from the time they were surveyed. Also, about three of 10 of those surveyed, or 29.1 percent, noticed some form of pro-cigarette promotion in the same period.


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