On with the smokes
Hala, natakot ako nung nabasa ko ito.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Ex-smoker files suit vs. Philip Morris
By James Konstantin Galvez , Researcher
An advertising executive, who almost lost his leg to a smoking-related disease, on Tuesday filed a criminal case against multinational tobacco giant Philip Morris Manufacturing Inc. for its alleged failure to place health warnings on the front display panel of their recently released products.
Robert del Rosario filed the case with the Makati Regional Trial Court. His lawyer, Debby Sy, said the decision to file the case was due to Philip’s failure to comply with Republic Act 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.
Named respondents in the case were Salman Hamed, a Pakistani, Philip’s country president and chairman; Christopher James Nelson, managing director; Joseph Mitchell Gault, vice-president-finance-treasurer; and Kenelm Mark Johnson Hil, vice-president for manufacturing, all British nationals; Filipino Maryann Dalypan and Varena Elero, chief of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs; Martinus Franciscus Johannes Kila, a Dutch, vice-president for marketing; Gunther Friedrich Kurchus, a German, vice-president for operations; Peter Mark Furda, an American, VP for Treasury; Laurence An-thony Wee, Italian, and VP for Agronomy; and Ricardo Luis Boeetcher, a Brazilian, and VP for quality assurance.
In filing the case, Del Rosario cited the recently conceptualized Christmas edition of Philip Morris made available in the local market starting last month. He said this lacked health warnings that are supposed to occupy 30 percent of the front panel of the product.
“Instead of the health warnings on the front panel, the firm put a frosted green wrapper emblazoned with the word, ‘Its Freezing,’” the complainant said.
The health warning was printed on the side panel of the product.
“I just want them [referring to the tobacco giant] to follow the law and to let other people know of the health hazards associated with smoking so that they will avoid what I had gone through,” said del Rosario in an interview.
A smoker since 1978, the complainant said he didn’t know then that smoking could lead to Buerger’s disease, which often leads to limb loss due to constricted blood circulation.
Del Rosario said he stopped smoking only in 1993 when he started feeling pain in his body which doctors later diagnosed as Buerger’s disease, characterized by the clogging of the arteries of the legs. It is linked to smoking.
Del Rosario said he had to undergo an operation to save his leg.
Last October a group of doctors from several hospitals in Metro Manila filed a case against the same company for the same violations on its original packages, claiming that the company has no reason not to comply with a law passed three years ago.
R.A. 9211 mandates a smoking ban in public, prohibition on the sale of cigarettes to minors, requiring of health warnings on the side panel of the cigarette packs from January 1, 2004, to July 30, 2006, and limited bans on tobacco advertisement.
The law states that health warnings should take up 30 percent of the cigarette’s pack front panel by July 1, 2006.
It imposes a penalty ranging of P500,000 plus imprisonment.
The Philippines is one of the signatories to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global treaty adopted by the 191-members states of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003. The Philippine Senate ratified the convention in 2005.
Many experts say compliance was spotty. One-third of Filipino adults are smokers. Statistics show that 20,000 Filipinos die each year from tobacco-related diseases.
In Southeast Asia, the country comes second after Indonesia in the total number of cigarette sticks consumed annually with 88 billion to the latter’s 200 billion. The region consumes about 500 billion sticks yearly.
A survey done by the World Health Organization and the Department of Heath three years ago showed that Filipinos spent 2.5 percent of their total expenditure on smoking for an average consumption of 4.2 sticks daily.
Ah, basta, masarap ang Philip.