Thursday, November 18, 2010

'Campaign vs cigarette butt littering is sheer hypocrisy'

Two citizens' groups called as 'sheer hypocrisy' a drive against cigarette butt littering launched by a cigarette maker, Philip Morris, last Friday.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) and the EcoWaste Coalition said the said campaign to distribute cigarette butt receptacles is "below the line advertising gimmick" offering a false solution to the toxic by-product of smoking.

In a statement, they also called the campaign as "a form of deceptive advertising disguised as community service or corporate social responsibility action."

Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. Inc. launched last Friday a campaign against cigarette butt littering. Receptacles for cigarette butts will be given to local government units "to proactively address the issues caused by cigarette butt litter."

The Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 bans tobacco firms from advertising in "paid" or "above-the-line" media—television, radio, and newspapers—but not in “below-the-line,” which includes social or community work.

'Superficial and disproportionate'

“It is sheer hypocrisy on their part to tackle cigarette butt littering, but continue manufacturing tobacco products that have been causing diseases and deaths to millions of Filipinos,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, Executive Director of FCAP.

“The provision of cigarette butt receptacles offers a very superficial and disproportionate approach to the severe health and environmental impacts of tobacco addiction. It misleadingly promotes the notion that it is perfectly alright for the people to smoke as long as they properly throw the butts," added Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The two groups also reminded the government and LGUs that participating in the campaign is a violation of Joint Memorandum (MC) Circular 2010-01 of the Department of Health and the Civil Service Commission which seeks to protect the bureaucracy from tobacco industry interference.

They also said the campaign "will sow confusion on the government’s implementation of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that seeks to protect the people from second-hand smoke and help smokers get rid of smoking addiction".

Cigarette butts as no. 2 pollutant

Senator Loren Legarda, on the other hand, called on smokers to dispose cigarette butts responsibly, citing the fact that cigarette butts are the 2nd highest pollutant in the country, according to the Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

"Smokers should be more responsible when they dispose their used cigarette butts. Smoking alone, with the various chemicals in cigarettes, pollute the air. Now even cigarette butts are major pollutants because they are just being thrown anywhere," Legarda said.

She urged everyone, not only smokers, to throw their litter in waste baskets, and for the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to strictly implement the Anti-Littering Law.

Legarda also noted that cigarette butts take up to about 15 years to break down, according to the Eco-Waste Coalition. Some 4,000 chemicals are released in the process, which can harm ecosystems.

Call for Pnoy to quit smoking

Last May, FCAP asked President Benigno Aquino III to be the poster boy for the government's anti-smoking campaign.

It said Aquino can "make a difference and uphold public health" if he can show the public that he can kick his nicotine habit.

Aquino, however, replied by saying he is not yet ready to stop smoking.


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