The biggest public campaign in the Philippines has been ‘Yosi Kadiri’ (slang for ‘cigarettes are disgusting’), aimed at youth, launched in 1994 by the Department of Health (DOH) (Torres et al., 2000). It faltered through insufficient budgetary and legislative support (The DOH ‘Yosi Kadiri’ Campaign, 2000). WATCH (one of the ads on YouTube)
Tobacco control in the Philippines (also)
Tobacco advertising is big business in the laissez faire Philippines. A Senate White Paper acknowledges the country is ‘tragically lagging when compared with our own neighbors in Southeast Asia’ [(Philippines Senate, 1999), p. 27]. There are virtually no controls on the promotion or sale of tobacco in the Philippines. Minors may freely buy or sell it, and mass media advertising is allowed. Warning labels on cigarette packages are voluntary, and only a few local ordinances control smoking in public places and on public transportation. Current policy lacks ‘teeth’ from the sides of both demand and supply. Critics say that tobacco taxes serve primarily as revenue, rather than as a deterrent: tax rates are substantially lower than recommended by the WHO, and lowest on the cheapest cigarettes. Moreover, 15% of excise is returned to Local Government Units in tobacco-growing provinces to ‘encourage them to plant more [tobacco]’ [(Navarra, 2000), p. 4].
In 1988, a National Coalition on Tobacco Control was established, and smoking was banned on domestic flights. In 1992, the Philippines Medical Association started cessation workshops. The biggest public campaign has been ‘Yosi Kadiri’ (slang for ‘cigarettes are disgusting’), aimed at youth, launched in 1994 by the Department of Health (DOH) (Torres et al., 2000). It faltered through insufficient budgetary and legislative support (The DOH ‘Yosi Kadiri’ Campaign, 2000).
One of the country’s most prominent champions of tobacco control is a former Health Secretary, Senator Juan Flavier, who has drafted legislation and vigorously attempted to garner support for its passage through Congress. Senate Bill 1554 and House Bill 1198, introduced in 1999, would regulate labelling, sale and advertising of tobacco products, and ban smoking on public transport and in enclosed spaces. House Bill 4244 would prohibit sale of tobacco to minors, and regulate production and manufacture of tobacco products [(Torres et al., 2000), p. 3]. With predictions of overnight catastrophe for farmers and destitution for those reliant on the public purse, congressmen from tobacco-growing regions successfully opposed these bills (Philippines Senate, 1999; Philippines National Tobacco Administration, 2000; Tan et al., 2000).
In the face of this legislative hiatus, the DOH began efforts on several fronts. It initiated a national response to the WHO Framework Convention in mid-1999, involving roundtable discussions under the auspices of the University of the Philippines (University of the Philippines, 2000). Reports were presented on economic, health, behavioural and policy dimensions. The industry was permitted to table documents, as were social and medical researchers, and open discussion took place on possible courses of action and the potential impact of each. The role of gender in tobacco use and maintenance was singled out as an important influence for both sexes.
A second round of discussions (‘Consensus Building among Government Agencies and Stakeholders on Tobacco and Health’) continued in 2001. The DOH has established a ‘Tobacco Circle’, comprising the University, NGOs and medical associations, to advocate for national legislation. Although activist groups and individuals persevere (with increasing support from the DOH), their efforts have not yet borne fruit in effective tobacco control.