A report indicating the extent of a multinational tobacco company’s profits in Asia should move the Philippine government to stop the cigarette industry from raking heaps of money at the expense of public health, according to a tobacco control advocacy group.
The Bangkok-based Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) recently revealed that Asia has become Philip Morris International’s (PMI) virtual “cash cow” with the region providing 34.3 percent or $10.5 billion of the firm’s $31 billion net revenue in 2013.
“The SEATCA report showed PMI sold 880 billion sticks of which 301 billion were shipped in Asia where majority of its patrons are from low-income families… With 10 Filipinos, mostly poor, dying of smoking every hour—these factors should be reasons enough for our solons to make a stand and protect the people’s health,” said Emer Rojas, president of New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP).
Rojas, a cancer survivor and a former smoker, said the Philippines continues to lag behind its neighbors in tobacco control because Congress is too slow in passing laws that will deter tobacco consumption.
Among others, Rojas urged Congress to pass a law requiring tobacco firms to place graphic health warnings in tobacco products.