The Philippines Department of Health has distanced itself from the statements made by the Philippine delegation at the ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), reports CNN Philippines.
During the opening of the conference on Nov. 8, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said tobacco is a source of bad health but acknowledged that it “is also a source of good through taxation.”
“Tobacco tax laws fund our poverty reduction, universal health care and Covid-19 recovery programs They underscore the importance of tobacco use and funding of the state’s most important activities,” said Locsin.
The foreign affairs secretary also noted that the tobacco industry is making progress in moving away from harmful products by introducing “products with similar satisfaction but with far less harm.”
The health department said the statements made by the Philippine delegation negate the FCTC principles and undermine the progress the Philippines has made to curb tobacco use.
It also said that it was misleading to praise the tobacco industry’s role in raising tax revenues. In 2011, the cost of tobacco-related diseases was estimated at PHP177 billion ($3.54 billion) annually, the agency noted. This was seven times higher than the PHP25.9 billion collected in taxes from tobacco products.
Tobacco Harm Reduction advocates have praised the Philippines for rebuffing outside forces seeking to derail its tobacco-control policies.