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MANILA, Philippines - The New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), a non-profit group comprised of survivors of smoking-induced throat cancer, said cigarette manufacturers to stop meddling in the crafting of tax laws.
NVAP founder and president Emer Rojas said his group is supporting urgent bills like the proposed sin tax law not only to raise government revenues but also to ensure that risks posed by smoking would be reduced by higher cigarette prices promised by higher taxes.
"Some of our newer members (in NVAP) are very young, and yet they suffer from cancer not because they are smokers but because of inhaling smoke from their environment," Rojas said. "When people smoke, they endanger not only their own health but also those of the people around them."
Proposed sin tax measures are facing a stiff challenge as tobacco companies are opposing any law that would reduce their profits, NVAP said.
A paper released by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) says "the tobacco industry is dangerous to your country’s health," outlining how the tobacco industry is working to water down vital legislation to curb tobacco use. The industry, SEATCA noted, is trying to pass itself off as a stakeholder on the matter of tobacco control in Southeast Asia. Anti-smoking advocates insist that the tobacco industry should be isolated from the legislative process, seen as the culprit rather than as a partner.
WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan said in a speech at the last World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore that "tactics aimed at undermining anti-tobacco campaigns, and subverting the Framework Convention, are no longer covert or cloaked by an image of corporate social responsibility. They are out in the open and they are extremely aggressive."
"As we celebrated World No Tobacco Day last May 31, we were hoping that our government will not fall prey to the strategies of the tobacco firms and lose its firm foothold on the issue. With the President’s (Aquino) commitment to certify the (sin tax) bill as urgent, we should not lose sight of the goal to protect the health of our people from the risks posed by smoking," she said.