Health Advocates Calls for Intensified 'TAPS' Ban Implementation in Ph

MARIKINA CITY – Led by the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) and The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP), health advocates today strongly urged the Philippine government to immediately take steps in effectively banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) in order to reduce the number of tobacco users especially in Filipino youth.

Apart from creating more and better jobs, health advocates said it is ‘high-time’ for the Aquino administration to put primacy over the health and welfare of its people, especially of Filipino youth.

“In the last few months, we saw tremendous development in our economy which was said to be brought about by the Philippine government’s desire to promote transparency, reducing red tape and leveling the playing field. However, we believe that if the government wants to achieve an all-inclusive growth then they should start thinking of making people not just productive but also healthy. Inclusive growth will be rendered inutile if more Filipino people continuously suffer from diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema and our youth addicted to smoking,” said PCCP Chair of Council on Tobacco or Health and Air Pollution Dr. Imelda Mateo.

Dr. Mateo adds, “No less than the World Bank, an international lending institution, suggested the Philippine government to invest more in health and education in order to better sustain reform initiatives and to increase chances of success in achieving inclusive growth.”

One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption especially in Filipino youth is by banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS), with countries that have already introduced bans showed an average of 7% reduction in tobacco consumption.

Research also shows about one third of youth experimentation with tobacco occurs as a result of exposure to TAPS. Worldwide, 78% of young people aged 13-15 years report regular exposure to some form of TAPS.

Alarmingly, FCAP Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin said that although there was a significant decrease of smoking prevalence among youth aged 13-15 still the 2011 Global Youth Tobacco Survey showed that 1 out of 10 Filipino youth are still engaged or currently hooked into smoking.

“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. 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,” said Dr. Limpin.

She also cited commercial outdoor parasols bearing indicia or colors and even brand names of tobacco companies are proliferating in bars and places of entertainment throughout the country.

In addition, the health advocates expressed dismay that only a few local government units have implemented the TAPS ban even after six years when it was first implemented in the country.

“Although the TAPS ban is already in Republic Act 9211, there are are only a few number of local government units (LGUs) that have seriously implemented it despite numerous attempts to interfere from the tobacco industry. We commend those LGUs that have taken bolder steps not only for the advocacy but also in protecting their constituency such as the Healthy City of Marikina and Iloilo City,” said Dr. Limpin.

RA 9211 is the Philippine Government’s adherence to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which it signed in September 2003 together with 168 countries.

The FCTC affirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. It mandates a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship as a means to reduce consumption of tobacco products