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NEWS UPDATES 14 August  2010

Philippine tobacco companies fight warnings

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PHILIPPINE tobacco companies are fighting against the Department of Health’s (DOH), as they move to put graphic warnings on cigarette packs.

According to the health agency, after Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Inc. succeeded in obtaining a court order on July 1 to stop the implementation of the department’s Administrative Order 2010-0013, other companies have also tried to block the order.

Based on the health department’s statement, the tobacco companies seek an injunction from alleged injuries that they will suffer should the agency implement this order.

The May 24 administrative order requires tobacco manufacturers to put images of tobacco-related illnesses in their cigarette packs, and prohibiting them to use misleading tags such as “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” “extra,” “ultra” and similar terms.

The other companies were La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory, Mighty Corp. and JT International Philippines, which are also asking the courts to declare the administrative order as invalid.

Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla in one of the case hearings emphasized the urgency for the government to impose effective measures to curb tobacco consumption, especially among the youth.

Padilla said also in a statement that as a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the administrative order is the fulfillment of the country’s international obligation to impose specific regulations on the packaging and labeling of cigarettes.

Graphic health information has been shown to be effective with youth and have inspired smokers to quit the habit, with almost half of them smoking less frequently because of the graphic information.

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