Philippines - DOH 1st victory graphic health warnings..

October 24, 2010 - The Philippine Health Department (DOH) scored its first victory in compelling cigarette manufacturers to put pictures of diseased tissues and organs caused by smoking on cigarette packs, and after a Batangas court dismissed Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco Corp.’s (PMFTC) plea asking it to dump the department’s order. The Tanauan Regional Trial Court dismissed the cigarette maker’s plea in an order dated Sept. 23. The Manila Standard obtained a copy of the decision by Judge Arcadio Manigbas of Branch 83. Manigbas ruled that Philip Morris represented the same interests in the petition filed by Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco in Marikina on June 3 this year.

The court upheld the Health Department’s Administrative Order 2010-0013 prohibiting cigarette companies from using the terms “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” “extra,” and “ultra” in cigarette packets.

Background: Five tobacco companies challenged the order in five different Philippine courts. Two judges issued injunction orders temporarily preventing its implementation, while a third, Judge Brigido Luna of the Parañaque Regional Trial Court, issued a final decision last September 8 in favor of the owners of La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory by declaring Cabral’s (former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral of the Department of Health (DOH)) order "null and void." The Department of Health has elevated the issue to the Supreme Court. The Department of Health has elevated the issue to the Supreme Court. (Philippines - remarks at the Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health..)

April 7, 2010 - Philippines - DoH pushes for picture warnings on cigarette packs..
May 25, 2010 - Philippines - Department of Health wants health warnings on cigarette packs within 90 days..
June 4, 2010 - Philippines - tobacco firms claim graphic warnings on cigarette packs are illegal..
July 7, 2010 - Philippines - tobacco industry has obtained temporary relief from placing graphic warnings on cigarette packs..
August 23, 2010 - Philippines - tobacco companies don't want warnings on cigarette packs..
August 26, 2010 - Philippines - injunction regarding picture health warnings on cigarette packs nationwide..;
September 8, 2010 - Philippines - anti-smoking group files case to push for graphic warnings on cigarette packs...

But the case in Batangas is only one of five filed by the tobacco firms against the department in their battle against graphic warnings in cigarette packs. The tobacco firms filed similar cases against the department in June in Marikina, Parañaque, Malolos and Pasig, with the Malolos and Parañaque courts favoring them.

Health Undersecretary Alexander Padilla said the decision in the Batangas case was an “occasion where the right to health of Filipinos prevailed over the moneyed interests of a transnational tobacco company,” “With this win, the public should expect them to start complying instead of pursuing these duplicitous suits,” Padilla said.

Reference: Health Dept scores 1st win against tobacco firms by Macon Ramos-Araneta, Manila Standard Today, 10/20/2010.