An outrageous conflict of interest

In the Philippines, Big Tobacco sits on the governing board that implements tobacco control policies. This is an outrageous and unacceptable conflict of interest. More than 10,000 Corporate Accountability International members from around the world have signed this petition from our longtime partner Irene Reyes at HealthJustice calling on the Philippine Congress to kick the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI) out of the national tobacco control committee. Our partners in the Philippines will be delivering our members’ voices to leaders in Congress later this month to build additional support for the bill.

Two courageous individuals from the Philippines shared their stories about how the tobacco industry’s interference with health policy has directly impacted their lives:

“The City Legal Office received a letter from the Philippine Tobacco Institute in January 2014. Iloilo City had three tobacco-related ordinances in the pipeline involving advertising, access restrictions, and licensing fees for retailers. PTI requested that they be invited to participate in all public hearings related to tobacco control and even offered a model ordinance to our Sanggunian or local legislative body. After receiving PTI’s letter, City Councilor Joshua C. Alim, who also serves as the Chair of the Iloilo City Antismoking Task Force (ICAST), rejected the offer stating that the goals of tobacco companies run counter to the goals of the city government, which is to serve the people and protect their health. We all agreed that since our goals are irreconcilable with those of cigarette companies then there is no need to invite them to our public hearings. In fact, City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog stated in a speech during the Red Orchid Regional Award Ceremony in Sarabia Manor Hotel in Iloilo City, ‘Nothing will deter the progress of Iloilo City, not even the ill effects of smoking especially with me being Mayor of the city.’ All three ordinances were passed and are now being successfully enforced since we rejected interference from the tobacco industry.” -ICAST Director Inigo Garingalao Sign the petition to help kick #bigtobacco out of policymaking in the Philippines. Link is in bio!

“People have described me as the ‘walking graphic health warning’ against smoking because I was lucky enough to survive throat cancer. I started smoking when I was 17 and remained a chain smoker until I was diagnosed with the deadly disease in 2002. Even now, having quit smoking for more than a decade, I can still feel the long-term effects of my tobacco use. I have to rely to on an electrolarynx to speak. Based on my experience, I need to warn as many people as I can about the truth that tobacco causes death, disease, and disability. That is why it was a personal and grave insult for me to witness first hand how the Philippine Tobacco Institute started attacking provisions of the draft Graphic Health Warning Implementing Rules and Regulations in May this year. PTI wanted to delete references to the World Health Organization global tobacco treaty aimed to curb the tobacco epidemic. PTI’s lawyer even insinuated that if certain legal provisions were not revised or removed, the government may be sued. That is a brazen threat and the public needs to be aware of how the tobacco industry operates. Its primary goal is to profit at the expense of public health. How then can PTI be allowed to continue being a member of the national tobacco control body that implements and monitors our tobacco control laws? The tobacco industry is insidious like a malignant cancer that spreads and consumes its host. That is why it is urgent to remove the tobacco industry from the committee in order to protect health laws that are meant to save the lives of millions of Filipinos.” -Cancer survivor Emer Rojas Sign and share the petition to kick PTI out of public health policymaking (link in bio). #GoodbyePTI #antitobacco #smokefree