There’s a petition at Change.org initiated by the Philippine College of Physicians, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, PH and Philippine Medical Association directed at the owners of three convenience stores to remove cigarettes from their stocks in branches near the schools.
The petition cites Section 10 of Republic Act No. 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003) which clearly states: “The sale or distribution of tobacco products is prohibited within one hundred (100) meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, public playground or other facility frequently particularly by minors.”
Health officials led by Secretary Janette Garin, Undersecretary for Technical Services Vicente Y. Belisario and Undersecretary for Health Regulations Kenneth Y. Hartigan-Go had written way back in July the owners of 7-Eleven (Jose Victor Pardo), MiniStop (Robina Y. Gokongwei-Pe) and Family Mart (Anthony T. Huang) asking for their cooperation in enforcing the law.
In their letter, the DOH officials reiterated to the business leaders the rationale of the campaign against tobacco products. “Tobacco is a significant factor in the development of chronic conditions including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and lung diseases. Every year, around 6 million individuals die in the Global Tobacco Epidemic – more than malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV& AIDS combined.”
The officials said several key legislations have been passed to support the campaign against tobacco products that include raising taxes against tobacco, prohibition of smoking , and ban on tobacco advertisements, promotions and sponsorships.
The officials urged retail outlets including convenience stores “to exercise due diligence in observation of the prohibition.”
“Corporate social responsibility is necessary if any impact of this policy intended to protect and promote the health of Filipinos is to be felt,” they said.
That was five months ago and health advocates are dismayed that convenience stores near schools continue to sell cigarettes. Some do not display the cigarettes but customers can buy if they ask for it.
The petition also said, “Hindi po sapat na dahilan na di naman kayo nagtitinda sa mga kabataan, sapagkat ang mismong pagtitinda ng sigarilyo ay bawal, kung ang tindahan ay 100 metro mula sa mga perimeter ng paaralan. (It’s not enough that you are not selling to minors because the sale of cigarettes itself is prohibited if the store is within the 100-meter school perimeter.)
Health advocates are asking the support of the public through the Change.org petition. As of today, 5,872 persons have signed the petition.
The Sin Tax law was passed despite heavy resistance from the business sector. The fight to save our people, especially the young people, from the ravages of tobacco is far from over.
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