Issue of May 5, 2019

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Congressional bets urged to beef up tobacco control law
by Hasreel Sandee Gano

An advocacy group called on congressional candidates in the May 13 midterm elections to strengthen tobacco control policies in the country once they are elected.

“There are some things that needed to be fixed in our National Tobacco Regulation law because it became weaker than the WHO-FCTC (World Health- Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control),” said Au Quilala, Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development advocacy manager, during a media briefing at the launch of iChange campaign.

Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 regulates smoking in public places, tobacco advertising, and promotion and sponsorship, and provides sales restrictions. On the other hand, the WHO-FCTC is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.

Quilala said the iChange campaign calls on the 2019 candidates to support moves to amend the tobacco regulation law, specifically to expand the definition of places where smoking is banned and to raise the minimum age for people allowed to buy and use cigarettes from 18 to 25 years old.

“We hope that we all vote wisely, thinking about our daily lives, thinking of our health. Together with these proposals, we hope that we will consider the candidates who put primary considerations about our health,” Quilala said.

The group also called on the government for the strict regulation or banning of the use of electronic cigarettes or “vapes.”

A survey conducted by Pulse Asia from Jan. 26 to 31 revealed that nine out of the 10 adult Filipinos agree that smoking or the use of cigarettes in public places should be prohibited and nine out of 10 adult Filipinos also agree to raise the minimum age for buying and using cigarettes from 18 to 25.

Another survey conducted by Pulse Asia from March 23 to 27 showed that 75 percent of adult Filipinos are in favor of increasing tax on cigarettes.

Seven out of 10 adult Filipinos would support candidates who are in favor of legislative measures to increase the tax on cigarettes, the survey also showed.

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