Duterte admin to end ‘corporate social responsibility’ ploy of tobacco industry

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By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

Accepting money from the tobacco industry, which causes 10 Filipinos to die by the hour, is a form of corruption, stressed Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial.

“The tobacco industry has no redeeming social value. Corporate social responsibility from an industry that is responsible for so much death and suffering is irresponsible.” added Ubial.

In observance of the sixth year anniversary of the joint undertaking between Department of Health (DOH) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on protecting the bureaucracy from tobacco industry interference, Ubial said the government should regulate the tobacco industry by taxing it.

“We cannot regulate this industry that is a vector of disease and death if we accept donations from it. These donations are a form of promotion. Promotion and advertisement of tobacco must be banned.” she explained.

The new Health Secretary lauded the Departments of Education, Labor and Employment, Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology, Commission on Higher Education, Career Executive Service Board, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and local government units for excluding the industry.

Under this joint policy of DOH and CSC, public officials and employees shall interact with the tobacco industry only when strictly necessary, for effective regulation, supervision or control of this industry.

It mandates that public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value, from any person or business related to the tobacco industry in the course of their official duties.

Executive Director Anthonette Velasco of the Career Executive Service Board reiterated the guidelines requiring full disclosure of interactions with the tobacco industry by career executive service officers.

She said this is done through notarized self-certification as an additional requirement for promotion in and appointment to career executive service rank.

Velasco noted that “the disclosure of interaction shall not be a basis for outright disqualification of an applicant for CES eligibility, but the applicant will be subject to in-depth validation to further investigate circumstances related to the interaction.”

Dr. Maricar Limpin of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Alliance Philippines said under the Duterte administration, they are seeing the end of tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship, all done under the guise of corporate social responsibility.

She said there is an international standard developed to help organizations effectively assess and address those social responsibilities relevant to customers, employees and communities called ISO 26000.

“Protecting consumers’ health is clearly mentioned in ISO 26000. Companies cannot harm their consumer’s health, let alone kill them. It is high time we consider tobacco companies as the least responsible business and any CSR done by them should be called fake CSR to give justice to companies doing genuine CSR,” she said.

Duterte has vowed to implement a national ban on smoking cigarets. He was able to effectively impose a smoking ban in Davao since 2002, which strictly disallows anyone to smoke tobacco in public areas such as hotels, restaurants and government vehicles.

A smoking ban will save millions of Filipinos, especially children and the youth from the ill effects of secondhand smoke. It will also save on the costs of treating diseases.

Secondhand smoke can cause several health problems and complications for people. These include a greater risk of getting lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, heart disease, stroke, ear infection and breathing problems such as coughing, asthma, wheezing, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also at greater risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

According to statistics, an estimated 55 percent of young Filipinos are exposed to secondhand smoke at home while 65 percent are exposed in public places. Smoking also causes approximately 10 deaths every hour in the Philippines.

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