SEATCA: Upcoming tobacco expo “attacks and insults” the Philippines, its leaders, and its people

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) denounces the staging of Protobex/Inter-tabac Asia in Manila on March 20-22, 2013, and views the slated expo as a direct assault on Asia by the tobacco industry, coming as it is to the Philippines, base of the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Regional Office (WHO-WPRO).

This is the second consecutive year that Protobex/Inter-tabac Asia – a regional gathering of tobacco industry players – is being held in Pasay City.

The Philippine government, as host to the WHO-WPRO, must take Protobex/Inter-Tabac Asia’s arrival as both an attack and an insult. Anywhere tobacco and smoking are promoted, government efforts to protect and promote the health and welfare of their citizens are spat upon. No government national or local government should promote nor partner with tobacco industry players as it will end up promoting their harmful products, and find itself making a mockery of their own principles and programs for public health.

There is every reason for every Philippine leader to reject Protobex. Every hour, tobacco use kills at least 10 Filipinos. Instead they should be doing their utmost to save every one of those lives lost. Every tobacco related death is preventable.

Illustrating and underscoring how the tobacco industry respects nothing other than its death-laden profits, last year’s Protobex/Inter-tabac Asia violated a Pasay City ordinance that bans smoking in enclosed airconditioned places (http://bit.ly/V12EGz). Further, Protobex/Inter-tabac organizers lied about their utter disregard for Philippine laws, claiming on their website that the Pasay City local government “had issued a waiver to the organizers allowing smoking in the show venue”. Pasay City Local Government and its Administrator Atty. Dennis Acorda made it clear that there was no such waiver issued.

Protobex/Inter-tabac Asia represents a deceitful entity that places itself above the law and champions its own industry delegates – the merchants of smoking and death. Governments should take such businesses to task. As the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), to which the Philippines is a Party, recognizes: there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health.

SEATCA joins the Department of Health CHD-NCR, local government units of Metro Manila, the Metro Manila Development Authority and Philippine civil society in condemning this event. SEATCA allies itself with the FCTC Alliance – Philippines (FCAP), HealthJustice, Inc., New Vois Association of the Philippines, and the Philippine Cancer Society, among others, in their stand that there can be “no deal with the tobacco Industry”. True health advocates can only be against Protobex/Inter-tabac Asia.(ENDS)