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Youth Are Prime Target of Killer Cigarettes

August 18, 2010 ·  By Fr. Shay Cullen

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Youth Are Prime Target of Killer Cigarettes

Cigarette Smoking can cause cancer in the neck. Tobacco smoke causes impotence.

It’s when the frightening desperate gasping for breath fills the house and the fifty-five year Pedro Galmanan, father of five, struggles to suck oxygen into his lungs to stay alive and his children realize the terrible effects cigarette smoking has on their father.

His addiction to cigarettes cost him his job, drove the family into poverty and his withdrawal symptoms were an agony to witness. They now watch their father slowly die wheezing as the emphysema consumes his life.

Tobacco is a killer, a poison of mind and body, its addicting and destructive of families. Besides causing cancer, especially lung cancer, and other diseases such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic diseases, the smoke causes heath problems to bystanders too.

In the Philippines, it is estimated that cigarette smoking kills as many as 250 people a day, 90,000 a year. The greatest evil is that tobacco companies are targeting the youth and succeeding in addicting them in their thousands every year.

The tobacco industry must recruit new young smokers and addict them for life to continue its profit making business since it is aggressively killing off its customer base with its poison product. The dead have to be replaced with the living. In Indonesia alone cigarette smoking kills as many as 400,000 people a year and costs the nation billions of dollars in health costs.

The Philippine tobacco industry, whose interests are represented by the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI) are a powerful and influential lobbying body. Members and supporters include the Philippines’ biggest tobacco firm, Lucio Tan’s Philip Morris-Fortune Tobacco Corporation, and other corporations like the Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation, La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Manufacturing Inc., and Mighty Tobacco Corporation.

As the name suggests they have mighty influence in the Philippine congress and allegedly donate to politicians. Influential lobbyists allegedly manipulated the congress to water down the stronger provisions of the proposed anti-smoking law (RA 9211 passed in 2003), with words that they can now use to their advantage to prevent stronger health warnings on cigarette packs such as graphic pictures.

The newly appointed Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique T. Ona has vowed to implement the departments order (AO 2010-13) issued by the previous health secretary Esperanza Cabral to have the tobacco companies print graphic images on their cigarette packs as health warnings as they do on there export packs as required by Singapore and Thai law.

The DOH order was immediately and aggressively opposed by the tobacco lobby led by the president of the Philippine Tobacco Institute Rodolfo Salanga. He warned Secretary Cabral that such images would be illegal under RA 9211. But he has been shown to be incorrect since the present law only forbids additional text, not pictures, to be added to the pack.

The graphic images have the most powerful deterrent effect on youth. It is one of the recommendations of the World Health Organization’s framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which demands the 168 signatories, like the Philippines, to “implement large, rotating health warnings on all tobacco packaging and labeling”. Already 38 countries have implemented the picture-based warnings and the 27 member European Union has recommended each member to implement it.

Fortune Tobacco Company headed by the tycoon Lucio Tan won a preliminary injunction against the health department to stop the implementation of the order that was issued May 24, 2010 to place the picture-warnings on the packs. Judge Reyes of Marikina ruled last July 1, in favor of the company.

The power and influence for the tobacco industry worldwide is well known and actively opposes every restriction that will save people from smoking related ill-health. These tactics are so well known that the WHO convention against smoking had this to say to nations who are party to the convention: “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.” WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3

There is a battle out there in the world, in every country where cigarettes are sold and millions of victims are facing the possibility of a very painful and agonizing death from smoking related diseases. We have to do all we can to stop the promotion and sale of killer cigarettes. email: preda @ info . com . ph , www.preda.org

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