Philippines - PMI warehouse opens - former smokers that no longer have a voice are upset..

August 31, 2010 - A group of former smokers who lost their voice due to laryngeal cancer denounced yesterday, August 28th the recent opening of the new tobacco-leaf warehouse of Philip Morris Manufacturing Philippines (PMMP) in Subic Free Port.

Representing hundreds of other voiceless victims of the tobacco industry, Emer Rojas, a chain smoker who lost his larynx due to cancer, expressed his dismay for the cigarette maker’s expanding its business despite the issuance of Administrative Order (AO) 2010-0013 banning misleading des-criptors and requiring graphic health information on cigarette packages.

Background: Philip Morris International (PMI) on Thursday, August 19th inaugurated its P600 million regional tobacco leaf warehouse facility at the Subic Techno Park that will store tobacco leaf for shipment and processing in various PMI cigarette factories in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Philippines.

The new warehouse can store 14,000 metric tons of tobacco leaves, and can be further expanded to accommodate an additional 10,000 metric tons, for a total of 24,000 metrics tons of tobacco leaves dedicated for PMI’s Asia-Pacific operations.

The new warehouse is the second phase of PMI’s investment in Subic. In January 2008, PMI opened the first phase involving a 10,000 square meter leaf warehouse that used to be Building 8120 of SBMA located at the Boton area. The warehouse, renovated at a cost of P30 million, can accommodate 6,100 metric tons of tobacco leaf.

Philip Morris completesregional warehouse facility by IRMA ISIP, Malaya Business Insight, 8/20/2010.

The new Health Secretary Enrique Ona remains uncertain whether he will support the proposal for a higher-tax rate for cigarette products or not. Ona said in an interview that he tends to see the actual proposal first of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) before he takes a stand on the issue.

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) has been pushing for a higher tax rate that could reach P90 worth of tax per package. Philippines - President Aquino has stated he will prioritize increase in the tax on cigarettes..

“I’ll think about it,” said Ona when asked in a recent interview whether or not he would support FCAP’s bid to raise cigarette taxes in the country. FCAP claimed on its recent report that Ona agreed on moves to follow the “Obama model” in increasing cigarette tax in the country in its effort for the public to refrain from smoking.

However, Ona said that he never made any commitment to push for the proposal, stressing that he was suggesting or giving an example during his meeting with FCAP members. “I am not proposing it. I was just giving them [FCAP] as an example that is what they are doing in America. I told antismoking advocates to push for [increasing the cigarette tax] instead of using drawings as warning on the labels of cigarette products,” clarified Ona.

Asked what would be the DOH program against smoking under his watch, Ona admitted that it is not among his priority programs. “To me, people should refrain from smoking. I am thinking of Philhealth, not smoking,” Ona admitted.

Reference: Ex-smokers denounce the inauguration of new Philip Morris warehouse in Subic, Written by Sara Susanne D. Fabunan / Correspondent, Business Mirror, 8/29/2010.

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