Protesters picket key tobacco show in the Philippines

Hundreds of anti-smoking advocates on Thursday picketed the large international exhibitions of tobacco in the Philippines, a country which has attracted more attention from the industries of Western countries accumulate on the restrictions and taxes.

A Pack of cigarettes costs about 50 cents here, and nearly one out of every three Filipinos, aged 15 and older smoke, according to a poll cited the World Health Organization. The Government supports legislation aimed at preventing smoking with a new tax, but it is also trying to increase foreign investment to combat extreme poverty and unemployment.

The organizers of tobacco exhibits, including the world’s largest, said city officials have refused to indoor smoking ban for delegates. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III sent a congratulatory message to the meeting hoping that will benefit the economy.

One of the leaders of the protest, Roberto del Rosario, said that the government did not allow the show to go on.
“This business is killing people,” said del Rosario, president of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines.
WHO has also criticized the gathering, which opened in Manila on Thursday, claiming that provides a platform for the industry to promote “a deadly product in the Philippines and throughout Asia.”

Media were not allowed to trade shows, organizers said the show was “strictly industry only private meetings.”
They said the Philippines were chosen as the venue for “after several months of in-depth study of the place … for a number of good reasons.” It provides opportunities for the tobacco and cigarette manufacturers to meet the suppliers of raw materials such as paper, filters, and process equipment.

Dr Shin Young-soo, director of WHO’s Western Pacific, said that the Philippines is a competition against the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which he signed. The Convention requires signatories to ban tobacco promotion, advertising and sponsorship.

Pack of cigarettes costs about $ 1 in Laos, Malaysia, $ 3, $ 6 to $ 9 Hong Kong and Singapore.
Two former finance and two former secretaries of Health issued a statement saying that young people and encouraged the poor to smoke and drink, because alcohol and cigarette prices in the Philippines so low.

Supporters of the proposed measure of taxes, which push on the health and finance departments, they say that will fix the current structure of taxes on tobacco, which stands for a company that controls more than 90 percent of the market, and in which there is no system for adjusting the speed of inflation. The bill still pending in Congress.

The dominant tobacco company, PMFTC Inc, owned by Philip Morris International Inc, which bought local tobacco corporations luck in 2010.
PMFTC president Chris Nelson said the proposed taxes are “unfounded.”
“Our message is: we’re here for work, we are here for the prospects of economic growth on alcohol and tobacco and, therefore, I think, obviously … You have to be reasonable and realistic (tax) increases,” he said.
Although the proposed tax increase, he said he was optimistic about the prospects of the industry in the Philippines, as more farmers to go back to tobacco.

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