Health group pushes for tobacco ads ban implementation

Health advocates pushed for intensified implementation of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorhip (TAPS) ban to reduce consumption of tobacco products especially among the youth

In celebration of World Tobacco Day on Friday, Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) called for intensified implementation of Republic Act 9211, known as Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

The law “regulates and subsequently bans all tobacco advertisements and sponsorships”.

According to Dr. Encarnita Blanco-Limpin, executive director of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, tobacco industry players resort to point of sale advertisements to market their products.

These include cover designs of jeepneys, tricycles, clothing items, parasols, sari-sari store placards.

She also said that sale of tobacco products within 100-meter radius of schools and areas frequented by minors are also rampant.

“The reason for this is very clear. Tobacco companies continue to entice young people to start smoking through their aggressive ads and promotions as well as creative tactics,” she said.

“Marketing strategies such as product placements in strategic and visible areas like restaurants, convenience stores, malls and sponsorships in concerts, create a major brand recall among the youth,” she added.

Tobacco companies “undermine” the current law only provides restrictions on tobacco advertisements, according to Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Enrique A. Tayag.

“Our current law only has a partial ban, I am not sure if we can put [the point of sales ad] down.

PCCP and Department of Health (DOH) through Dr. Tayag lauded the efforts of Marikina local government, despite its “peculiar” position, for their campaign against smoking, tobacco consumption ban in public areas and prohibition on sale of tobacco products to minors.

“Marikina City is in a peculiar position because its biggest taxpayers are the largest tobacco manufacturers in the Philippines,” according to Marikina vice-mayor.

The city was awarded by DoH with “Red Orchid Award” for implementing “100% tobacco-free environments”, even when 97% of tobacco products in the country come from Marikina, according to Dr. Limpin.

Tobacco consumption can lead to various diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cancer and other lung diseases.

According to Dr. Limpin, six million people die from smoking-induced diseases worldwide, with 90,000 coming from the Philippines.

To heighten public awareness about ill effects of smoking, Department of Health will launch “Go 4 Health” campaign on June 6, according to Dr. Tayag.

Go 4 Health is a lifestyle campaign to prevent diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and COPD through promotion of proper diet, restraint from drinking and smoking, and physical activity.

“Smoking cessation buses”, where information about smoking are disseminated, will also return, according Dr. Loida Labao-Alzona, head of Metro Manila Development Authority Health Public Safety and Environment Protection.

Dr. Tayag urged the public to report violations of Tobacco Regulation Act to authorities.

“Everytime may nakikita kayong bata na naninigirilyo at hindi niyo sinita, everytime may nakikita kayong signages at hindi kayo nakikialam, you’re passive, parang tinolerate niyo na rin.” (Everytime you see children smoking and you don’t apprehend them, everytime you see signages and you don’t report them, you’re passive, almost tolerating them.

Geneva Frances C. Guyano