Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Antismoking campaign mounts after Jo Ramos’s death

28 June 2011

A DAY after Jo Ramos, daughter of former President Ramos, succumbed to lung cancer, antismoking advocates called on Health Secretary Enrique Ona to step up the campaign against smoking.

In a separate phone interview, both Dr. Maricar Limpin, Framework Convention Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines (FCAP) executive director, and former Health secretary Esperanza Cabral said that due to Ramos’s death, there should be a call for a stronger effort to curb smoking-related illnesses in the country.

“We need a stronger and firmer DOH [Department of Health] that is ready to fulfill its mandate in protecting the right of Filipinos to health and our right to the highest standards of health, as stipulated in our Constitution as well as in the convention of human rights,” Limpin said.

Cabral emphasized the need for the passage of picture-based warning on cigarette packs pending in the House of Representatives.

“I also call on Secretary [Enrique] Ona to step up the campaign of the DOH against smoking,” Cabral stressed out.

Cabral said Jo Ramos’s death is only one of the 240 Filipino lives lost every day from tobacco-related diseases.

“We extend sincere condolences to the family of Jo Ramos. We appreciate very much the effort of President Fidel Ramos to fulfill his daughter’s dying wish to remind people that ‘smoking is bad for you,’” Cabral said.

“In an interview, FVR [President Ramos] relays that Jo’s advice to all is ‘smoking is bad for you,’” she reiterated.

Cabral hoped that with the death of Jo Ramos, government leaders will be pushed to take action to warn the public about the ill effects of tobacco and control its distribution, sale and use in the country.

However, the Cabral-issued DOH Administrative Order (AO) 2010-0013 is being questioned by tobacco firms before courts, saying it does not conform to the guidelines set by the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

In April Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. had filed separate bills that are pushing for the increase of cigarette prices by as much as 83 percent.

Sen. Pia Cayetano has filed a bill that would bolster the attempt to get the pictures on cigarette packs. The bill will penalize tobacco companies for every day of violation. It ensures the long-term impact by periodically varying the images used on the packs.

The Philippines is a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that obliges parties to put effective health warnings on cigarette packs.

It is estimated that one Filipino dies from tobacco-related death every 10 seconds, making it an alarming public health crisis. Seven out of the 10 primary causes of death in the country—stroke, cancer, heart attacks, tuberculosis, chronic lower respiratory disease, pneumonia and diseases that occur around childbirth—are tobacco-related diseases.

“Studies show a great decline in tobacco use in Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Thailand, among others. The US also recently announced that they will also be implementing picture warnings. We should not wait any longer,” said Evita Ricafort of HealthJustice.

, a public health law NGO that supports both the AO and the bills.

According to World Lung Foundation, a smoker takes a look at a cigarette’s packaging an average of 15 times a day, making it “the most effective and practical way to warn a smoker of the grave hazards of smoking.”

“Despite clear evidence on the positive impact picture warnings contribute to public health, the tobacco industry attempts to stop these pictures from seeing the light of day by filing lawsuits in different trial courts. The more successful they are in their efforts, the more tobacco-related deaths are not being prevented,” Ricafort lamented.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>