PHL delegates to COP7 call for vigilance vs tactics of tobacco industry

21 November 2016:

MANILA — The Philippine delegates to the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) pushed for stronger implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC agreement.

The conference, held in New Delhi, India from Nov. 7 to 12, reviewed the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

Article 5.3 of the FCTC agreement pertains to protecting public health and tobacco control laws and policies against the commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

In line with that, the Filipino delegates warned the government to be careful in facing the tactics that may be used by the tobacco industry.

“We remind the government to be vigilant in choosing the organizations it deals with. Tobacco manufacturers often prey on the local government offices and public schools, offering them training, equipment and other supplies as part of their so-called ‘CSR’. We should work together to give greater life to the Civil Service Commission- Department of Health Joint Memorandum Circular (CSC-DOH JMC) 2010-01 prohibiting the tobacco industry from interacting with and trying to influence the government,” said Atty. Irene Reyes of HealthJustice Philippines, one of the delegates.

The Conference of the Parties, which takes place every two years, is an opportunity for the parties to the agreement to talk about strengthening the global tobacco treaty and improving the mechanisms to implement it.

During the sixth COP, the Parties agreed on the Article 6 guidelines, which now outline the best practices in increasing tobacco tax.

“A total of 180 countries or over 90 percent of the countries around the world have taken a stand in favor of public health and against big tobacco by ratifying the WHO FCTC. The battle is far from over, and the tobacco industry has definitely not slackened in employing massive economic resources to defeat public health laws and policies. But the show of commitment to the WHO FCTC here at the seventh COP demonstrates that health will win this war,” said Reyes.

HealthJustice Philippines is a non-stock, non-government organization “bridging the gap between health and law” by advancing tobacco control and health promotion in the Philippines. It received the Bloomberg Award for Global Tobacco Control in 2012.