Group bares new cigarette law’s loophole
MANILA, Philippines–An anti-smoking group on Monday said the Graphic Health Warnings Law was a step forward in protecting the right to health of Filipinos but the measure had a loophole that would give tobacco firms an opportunity to undermine it.
The advocacy group Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) said the provision mandating the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IACT) to monitor implementation of the law posed a problem.
FCAP executive director Dr. Maricar Limpin pointed out that tobacco companies, represented by the Philippine Tobacco Institute, were part of the committee.
“The only problem we see in the law is the provision where the IACT is tasked to do the monitoring,” Limpin said in an interview with reporters on Monday.
“It is the tobacco companies that are being regulated and monitored for compliance with the law. How come the ones to be regulated and monitored are part of the monitoring body?” she said.
She pointed out that the Philippines ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005, obliging the government to ensure that tobacco firms would not be part of any health policy to prevent them from meddling with it.
“Making the IACT the monitoring body gives the tobacco companies an opportunity to interfere with or undermine the Graphic Health Warnings Law. This is a violation of the FCTC,” she said.
The law aims to discourage cigarette smoking by showing graphic photographs of the gruesome physical effects of the habit on the cigarette packs.
Limpin said that while the advocacy group was still studying options to plug the loophole, it was encouraging the Department of Health to take the lead in enforcing the new law.
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