'Don’t be blinded by donations from tobacco firms’ – law group reminds government

Published May 16, 2021, 3:04 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Cigarette Smoking

The government should impose stricter regulations against tobacco companies regardless how much donations they have contributed amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a public interest law organization urged on Sunday, May 16.

“The tobacco industry has a long history of using so-called corporate social responsibility or CSR to interfere with policymaking,” ImagineLaw executive director and lawyer Sophia Monica San Luis said in a statement.

ImagineLaw, a non-stock and non-profit public interest law organization established in 2016, “designs and advocates for evidence-based policy solutions to enable all people to live healthy and meaningful lives.”

San Luis alleged that tobacco companies are trying to steer attention from their harmful products by marketing themselves as part of the solution through outreach programs during the pandemic.

“No less than the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that tobacco companies have attempted to gain favor and influence in governments through philanthropic contributions during this COVID-19 pandemic,” she cited.

She noted that tobacco companies, through their CSR, have donated face masks, COVID-19 testing equipment, ventilators, and, recently, vaccination programs.

“The tobacco industry will never be an ally in public health as long as its actions are diametrically opposed with the policies meant to protect Filipinos’ health,” she stressed.

She pointed out that tobacco products “remain harmful and dangerous to the respiratory system, the very same system that the coronavirus attacks.”

“According to the WHO, smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to suffer from severe symptoms of COVID-19,” she added.