By Chito Chavez
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), the Child Rights Network (CRN), and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) will host an online concert on May 31 dubbed as #TobaccoFreeGeneration.
PLPCD said the concert is being held on World No Tobacco Day under the theme “protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use.” In a high-burden tobacco use country like the Philippines, there are 16.6 million adult smokers and 87,000 Filipinos die annually from tobacco-related diseases.
According to the 2015 Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2015, 16 percent of the students aged between 3-15 years old in the Philippines use any tobacco products while 12 percent of students smoke cigarettes. Republic Act 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, is the primary regulatory law for tobacco products in the Philippines.
For advocates, the provisions under this law are not enough to protect children from being targeted by the marketing and manipulation of the tobacco industry. Aside from weak enforcement including that of the provision on age restriction on sale of cigarettes to those below 18 years old, there are other gaps in the law that need to be addressed. These include advertising in points of sale or where cigarettes are being sold.
New products like electronic cigarettes–being deceptively marketed as a smoking cessation tool–have also attracted young people because of their packaging and flavors. According to a survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), one in five vapers in the country is an adolescent.
Currently, there are more than 20 bills being deliberated at the House of Representatives on regulation of electronic cigarettes. According to advocates, in order for the bills to be truly protective of children and of the health of all Filipinos, there should be a ban on the sale to young people below age 25 and ban on all flavors. More important, the groups noted that it is recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be the regulator for these products.
The concert will feature performances from progressive and some up-and-coming artist-advocates, including Skarlet Brown, Sitti, the vowels they orbit, Better Days, Pasada, Acel van Ommen, Kokoi Baldo, and Bayang Barrios at ang Bandang Naliyagan.
Department of Finance (DOF) Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino, a lawyer who used to be a member of the Smokey Mountain, also a champion for tobacco control, will have a special performance during the show. Actress Bea Binene will host the event.
The concert will be simulcast live at 6:00 PM on PLCPD’s Facebook page (fb.com/PLCPD1989) and YouTube channel. PLCPD, CRN and CTFK have organized the concert in partnership with Action for Economic Reforms, HealthJustice Philippines, RIGHTS, Inc., and Social Watch Philippines (SWP).