Health Dept scores 1st win against tobacco firms, 22/10/10

THE Health Department scored its first victory in compelling cigarette manufacturers to put pictures of diseased tissues and organs caused by smoking on cigarette packs, and after a Batangas court dismissed Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco Corp.’s plea asking it to dump the department’s order.

The Tanauan Regional Trial Court dismissed the cigarette maker’s plea in an order dated Sept. 23. The Manila Standard obtained a copy of the decision by Judge Arcadio Manigbas of Branch 83.

Manigbas ruled that Philip Morris represented the same interests in the petition filed by Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco in Marikina on June 3 this year.

The court upheld the Health Department’s Administrative Order 2010-0013 prohibiting cigarette companies from using the terms “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” “extra,” and “ultra” in cigarette packets.

But the case in Batangas is only one of five filed by the tobacco firms against the department in their battle against graphic warnings in cigarette packs.

The tobacco firms filed similar cases against the department in June in Marikina, Parañaque, Malolos and Pasig, with the Malolos and Parañaque courts favoring them.

Health Undersecretary Alexander Padilla said the decision in the Batangas case was an “occasion where the right to health of Filipinos prevailed over the moneyed interests of a transnational tobacco company,”

“With this win, the public should expect them to start complying instead of pursuing these duplicitous suits,” Padilla said.

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