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Print health warnings, tobacco firms dared

/ 05:52 AM February 07, 2014

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MANILA, Philippines—A group of cancer survivors has challenged tobacco companies to prove their sincerity in supporting a bill that would require them to print graphic health warnings on their cigarette packs by withdrawing all the legal suits they had filed against the Department of Health (DOH).

“While we welcome the news that tobacco firms have expressed support for the bill, we are cautious about the industry’s sincerity owing to its history of meddling in legislative measures. We are not blind to an industry that has for so long been protecting its business interests with little or no regard for the country’s laws and public health,” Emer Rojas, president of New Voice Association of the Philippines, an organization of throat cancer survivors, said in a statement.

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Rojas is an engineer and former radio announcer who lost his voice after years of heavy smoking.

Four top cigarette manufacturers have, “in principle,” expressed support for the bill, earlier reports quoting Sen. Pia Cayetano said.

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Cayetano and Senate President Franklin Drilon have filed Senate Bill Nos. 27 and 499, which seek to promote picture-based warnings on each cigarette pack, depicting the adverse health consequences associated with smoking and breathing second-hand smoke.

Rojas said the support from the tobacco industry should be taken with caution.

“I agree with Sen. Pia Cayetano. If the industry is really serious about this then it should start showing its sincerity by withdrawing all the legal suits it had filed against the Department of Health for enforcing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Actions speak louder than voice. I hope this statement from the tobacco companies is not another delaying tactic to stymie the passage of the law,” Rojas said.

In 2010, the DOH failed to enforce its memorandum to have graphic health warnings stamped on tobacco products after the industry challenged its legality in a number of local courts.

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TAGS: cigarettes, graphic warnings, Health, Tobacco
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