Saturday, November 13, 2021

Law group hits Locsin for 'dirty ashtray award' during WHO conference on tobacco control

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Public interest law group ImagineLaw criticized Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Boy Locsin, Jr. for what they call a ‘blatant disregard of the position of the Department of Health (DOH) and the medical community against vapes and e-cigarettes’.

Locsin as head of the Philippine delegation to the ninth Conference of Parties (COP9) of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) being held this week touted vapes and e-cigarettes (novel tobacco products) as ‘less harmful’ as part of the Philippines’ Statement on the WHO FCTC Global Progress Report. The secretary also praised tobacco companies for their ‘innovation in creating products that deliver satisfaction but with far less harm’.

“Secretary Locsin’s statements in the COP 9 echo the false narratives peddled by tobacco companies,” according to ImagineLaw Executive Director Atty. Sophia San Luis. “These narratives go against overwhelming medical and scientific opinion on the real harms of vapes and e-cigarettes,” she added.

Dirty Ashtray Award

The Philippine government on Tuesday was also awarded the ‘Dirty Ashtray Award’, a lampoon award given by international watchdog Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) to companies and governments seen as peddlers of tobacco industry interests.

Together with Guatemala, the award was given to the Philippines on the second day of COP 9 for “insisting on amendments with unhelpful and often confusing wording which wasted valuable COP time,” according to the FCA.

“It is a great misfortune and an example of supreme irony that tobacco interests are represented in the Philippine delegation to an international platform for tobacco control, while public health interests are sidelined,” said San Luis. “This is a big insult and a shameful setback in the Philippines’ efforts to curb the rising number of deaths caused by the tobacco industry in the Philippines,” she added.

Locsin urged: listen to DOH

ImagineLaw urged Locsin to withdraw his statement and allow the DOH to take the lead in advancing public health interests in the COP9.

“It is a public health conference of parties by the World Health Organization. Secretary Locsin famously said before to leave the matters of foreign affairs to him. In the same light, he should also leave public health matters to the DOH,” said San Luis.

She also urged the Philippine delegation to listen to health experts and ‘commit to curb the harms of vapes, e-cigarettes, restrict access to these novel products and dispel unsubstantiated harm reduction claims.’

“Physicians and the medical community have been clear about the danger of vapes and e-cigarettes to people’s health. They are not a viable smoking cessation nor harm reduction tools but a way for tobacco companies to secure their profits.

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