WHO concerned PH is hosting tobacco trade show
MANILA, Philippines - The World Health Organization is not too happy about the Philippines playing host to a tobacco trade show.
In a statement, the WHO expressed concern about the Philippines' hosting of ProTobEx ASIA, an annual trade show that brings together the world's biggest tobacco manufacturers and advertisers. ProTobEx opens tomorrow and will run until March 22 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
In a letter to President Benigno Aquino, who is a known smoker, the United Nations country team said it is confident in the government's commitment to regulate tobacco in order to protect Filipinos from its harmful effects. The UN country team includes the WHO.
The WHO noted that the Philippines is one of 176 Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which includes a provision that requires a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Republic Act 9211, or the Tobacco Regulatory Act of 2003, also provides for a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
"Despite the significant decrease in the prevalence of smoking among youths 13 to 14 years old, the tobacco epidemic in the country remains a serious issue," said Dr. Eigil Sorensen, Senior Health Advisor at WHO Philippines.
Sorensen noted that cigarette ads and promotions, such as the tobacco trade show in Manila, have been shown to encourage young people to start smoking.
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the Department of Health in 2011, one out of 10 youths currently smoke, compared to 2 out of 10 youths who were current smokers in 2007.
"Close to 14 million adult Filipinos smoke every day, and if this trend continues, the estimated 10 Filipinos dying by the hour due to tobacco-related diseases--deaths from ehart disease, cancer and stroke--will continue to escalate," Sorensen said.
The Philippine government started implementing higher taxes on tobacco products this year. While it seeks to boost tax collection, the measure is also seen as a way to discourage people from smoking.