CA: Not all tobacco ads, promos prohibited

Posted at 09/02/12 2:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Not all tobacco promotional activities are prohibited, the Court of Appeals said.

In affirming an August 26, 2011 decision, the appellate court’s former special eleventh division said: “Until such time when there is already a new law totally eliminating all forms of tobacco use and tobacco-related activities, this Court has no other recourse but to act only in accordance with the prevailing R.A. No. 9211.”

It highlighted, in particular, section 22 of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 that prohibits all forms of tobacco advertisements in mass media, “except tobacco advertisements placed inside the premises of point-of-sale establishments.”

The appellate court also stressed section 23 of R.A. 9211, which allows tobacco promotions with some restrictions such as it should be directed to persons at least 18 years old; all stalls, booths and other display concerning tobacco promotions must be limited to point-of-sale of adult only facilities; telephone communications concerning promotional offers, programs or events must include a recorded health warning message; and several others.

The issue stemmed from the complaint of Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc. (PMPI) questioning the authority of the Department of Health (DOH) prohibiting tobacco firms from holding promotions in the country.

In separate incidents in 2008, Philip Morris applied with the then Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) for its “Gear Up Promotional Activity” and “Golden Stick Promotional Activity.”

The BFAD, now the Food and Drug Administration, denied the permits by invoking a DOH memorandum prohibiting tobacco firms from holding any form of promotion.

The BFAD decision would later be reversed by the Court of Appeals. The DOH, however, filed a motion for reconsideration.

In its latest ruling, the appellate court said the DOH did not raise new arguments. “Respondents practically anchor their claims on the same arguments and defenses which have already been squarely addressed and ruled upon in the questioned decision.”

The appellate court also reiterated that the Inter-Agency Committee, and not the DOH, which has exclusive authority to implement the provisions of R.A. No. 9211

Under section 29 of the law, the IAC-Tobacco should be composed of the secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry as the chairman with the secretary of the DOH as vice chairman.