To­bacco firms win vs smok­ing ban

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - TONETTE OREJAS —STORY BY

In a le­gal vic­tory for cig­a­rette man­u­fac­tur­ers, a Balanga City court has struck down an or­di­nance ban­ning the sale, use and promotion of cig­a­rettes within the 80-hectare area called Univer­sity Town. Judge Philger Noel Inove­jas said by im­pos­ing a to­tal ban, the or­di­nance il­le­gally amended a na­tional law that reg­u­lated the sale and use of cig­a­rettes.

CITY OF SAN FER­NANDO— Cig­a­rette man­u­fac­tur­ers have won the first round of their le­gal ac­tion against an or­di­nance ban­ning smok­ing and the sale, dis­tri­bu­tion and promotion of cig­a­rettes within the 80-hectare Univer­sity Town and its kilo­me­ter ra­dius in Balanga City.

Philip­pine To­bacco In­sti­tute (PTI) gained the up­per hand af­ter Judge Philger Noel Inove­jas, of the Re­gional Trial Court Branch 93 in Balanga, de­clared Sec­tion 1 of the or­di­nance, also called Univer­sity Town Or­di­nance, “un­con­sti­tu­tional and in­valid.”

In a 25-page de­ci­sion, Inove­jas said the or­di­nance “il­le­gally amends, mod­i­fies and ex­pands the pro­hi­bi­tions con­cern­ing the use, sale, dis­tri­bu­tion and ad­ver­tise­ment of to­bacco prod­ucts by im­pos­ing a to­tal ban.”

In its pe­ti­tion, PTI had ar­gued that Philip Mor­ris Philip­pines Man­u­fac­tur­ing Inc. would lose P15 million in sales due to the city’s ban.

Inove­jas “per­ma­nently en­joined” the city and its of­fi­cials from im­ple­ment­ing Sec­tion 1 of the or­di­nance. This law amended the city’s no smok­ing or­di­nance.

Balanga Mayor Fran­cis Gar­cia said the de­ci­sion would be ap­pealed.

Bul­lies

“To­bacco com­pa­nies are like bul­lies. Cities should en­force their an­ti­smok­ing or­di­nances and dis­re­gard threats [to these lo­cal laws], which abide by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion Frame­work Con­ven­tion on To­bacco Con­trol,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, di­rec­tor of the South­east Asia To­bacco Con­trol Al­liance.

Dorotheo said he was dis­ap­pointed that a court struck down the ef­forts of the city to pro­tect the health of its youth and res­i­dents.

Davao, Muntinlupa and oth- er cities have sim­i­lar to­bacco reg­u­la­tions, he added.

In­va­sion of right

Rep. Jose En­rique Gar­cia III, who was mayor when the city coun­cil passed the Univer­sity Town Or­di­nance, called the court’s rul­ing a set­back but said he was cer­tain the or­di­nance would be “up­held in the end.”

He said the an­ti­to­bacco or­di­nance was “en­acted pur­suant to Balanga City po­lice power to pro­mote the gen­eral wel­fare and the con­sti­tu­tional pol­icy of the state to pro­tect and pro­mote the right to health of the peo­ple.”

“If there is a ma­te­rial and sub­stan­tial in­va­sion of right in these cases, it is cer­tainly not that of PTI and the in­ter­est it rep­re­sents but the right to life of ev­ery per­son, an in­dis­pens­able com­po­nent of which is the con­sti­tu­tional right to health,” he said.

—WIL­LIE LOMIBAO

CASH CROP The world of smok­ers con­tin­ues to shrink but to­bacco farm­ers plod on, like this man in Vil­la­sis, Pan­gasi­nan, who wa­ters his to­bacco plants to pro­tect them from heat.

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