FCAP to Tobacco Industry: Stop Killing the FIlipino People

Upset over the staging of the global tobacco exposition dubbed as Protobex Asia/Intertabac Asia 2013, health advocates – led by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) – took to the streets today to mourn for the death of hundreds of Filipinos everyday because of tobacco-related diseases.

All donned in black shirts, they dumped black body bags as a sign of protest in front of the World Trade Center, where the three-day exposition was held.

“We want to send a strong message to the tobacco industry that staging their trade show in Manila for the second straight year translates to hundreds of Filipinos who do not only suffer but die as a consequence of using their products. If they believe that the Philippines ‘welcomes’ them over other locations in Asia, we are here to prove them wrong. In fact, we are here because we want them out of our country and if possible, their deadly products and their industry to be out of our culture,” said Dr. Limpin, FCAP Executive Director.

Apart from the expo ‘paving the way to showcase an array of deadly products and strategies to a new breed of consumers in women and in youth,’ FCAP also expressed concern about the government’s ‘seemingly favoring’ commercial interests over and above the general welfare of its people, which is contrary to its mandate.

“All the more, we should not allow any marketing or promotional activity that seeks to encourage the use of these products by Filipinos, especially the women and the youth. It is high time for the government, both in the national and the local levels, to reaffirm its commitment of prioritizing the health of the Filipinos over any and all commercial interests,” added Dr. Limpin.

The exposition, which was held from March 20-22, 2013, is an international trade show exclusively highlighting tobacco products and accessories in Manila for the second consecutive year, which health advocates believe as an ‘outright disrespect’ for Philippine laws and in effect belittling the country’s set of principles when it comes to tobacco control.

Organizers say they chose the Philippines because of its vibrant and phenomenal tobacco industry and the support of the local government of Pasay, which has issued a waiver allowing indoor smoking at the venue.

The country has an estimated 17 million smoker and an average of 10 tobacco-related deaths every hour from diseases such as cancer and emphysema. In the ASEAN region, the Philippines also has the highest female smoking prevalence rate.

The Philippines is a signatory of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which provides that there is a ‘fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health.’