It’s superheroes vs Yosi Kadiri
When antismoking crusaders Superman and Batman arrive together in a restaurant and Yosi Kadiri, the champion smoker, barges in a few seconds later, what do you think ensues?
The battle of a lifetime, of course.
The fight of the two caped superheroes against the antismoking mascot of the Department of Health (DOH) took place in Mandaluyong City on Friday, staged by government officials and health advocates to “remind the public about the need to fight tobacco use.”
In the fight, the man in the Superman outfit and his partner in a Batman suit “threw punches” at Yosi Kadiri, a man with yellow and crooked teeth to show the ugly effects of smoking.
Health officials and advocates presented the make-believe tableau at the Secret Recipe restaurant at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City to celebrate World No Tobacco Day declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) to draw attention to the widespread use of tobacco and its ill effects.
Fight is not over
The antitobacco compaign, dubbed “Cause of Death: Tobacco,” was spearheaded by the nongovernment organization HealthJustice, in partnership with the DOH, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and groups like the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (Seatca) and New Vois Association of the Philippines.
This year, the campaign centered on the theme Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship, or TAPS.
“The Philippines has been making strides in health … The sin tax law has been passed, but the fight is not yet over … (There is only a) partial ban on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco,” HealthJustice project manager Diana Trivino told a press conference.
‘Biggest serial killer’
Trivino said that since 2008, tobacco companies in the Philippines had been banned from putting out advertisements in the mass media but were allowed to display their cigarettes prominently in stores.
Thus, despite the “partial ban,” companies still managed to circumvent the law, she said, noting that cigarette advertisements were still present on some major thoroughfares, like Edsa.
“Tobacco really is the world’s biggest serial killer. For this reason alone it needs no further promotion,” Trivino said.
She also said that while other countries had begun employing “graphic images” in cigarette packages, the Philippines continued to use “only text” messages to discourage smoking.
Seatca project director Ulysses Dorotheo agreed, saying that Australian authorities had been requiring the insertion of graphic health warnings in cigarette packs since December last year.
“The objective of advertising is to encourage consumers to buy and use their products … (Tobacco companies) are targeting children,” Dorotheo said. He said the Philippine government “needs to do something about this.”
Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag noted that a temporary restraining order issued by a court on the insertion of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs remained in place
Tayag said the government was coming up with ways to bring down smoking rates in the country.
These include issuing recognition awards for those who would implement smoke-free zones and launching of services in so-called “cessation clinics” for people who wish to quit smoking.
Tayag also said he had learned that the WHO had given President Aquino an award for the Philippines’ passage of the sin tax measure. “This is a very important milestone but the interventions we have put in place need to continue,” he said.
In much the same way that the “fight” of Superman and Batman against Yosi Kadiri remains unfinished, the fight against smoking continues, health advocates said.
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