The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has put to task tobacco companies for refusing to put graphic warnings on cigarette packs.
CHR Chair Loretta Rosales expressed on Monday her support for groups that have called for the implementation of the Department of Health’s Administrative Order 2010-0013, compelling tobacco manufacturers to put pictures of the debilitating effects of smoking on their packs.
Rosales, who admitted to be a former chain smoker who kicked the habit in 1994, said the companies’ refusal to follow the rules “was a rights violation.” “The companies who do not implement the AO should be charged,” she said in a press briefing on Monday.
She noted that the health department has put the law in place to protect the lives and health of the public.
CHR Commissioner Cecilia Quisumbing said the companies who have been fighting the law were guilty of “impunity.”
The CHR chief issued the call for companies to follow the law after a support group of laryngeal cancer survivors appealed to her to pressure tobacco firms after two companies managed to secure an injunction against the order.
“Every day, 250 Filipinos die of smoking-related illness. But tobacco companies have not just refused to comply with the AO, they’ve also filed cases left and right against the Department of Health,” Emer Rojas, president of New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) said.
“I have laryngeal cancer, a form of cancer that is 99% caused by smoking. The lying must stop so others will not have to go through the suffering and pain that we, victims of cigarettes – and our families – went through,” he added.
Recently, Fortune Tobacco, which is owned by tycoon Lucio Tan, and Mighty J, has asked the court to invalidate the AO. The court granted their requests, prompting the Department of Health to contest the injunction orders.
The NVAP noted that placing pictures of ailments caused by smoking would discourage people, especially minors, from taking up the habit. It noted that the AO was consistent with the health department’s mandate to protect the public’s health.