Characterising Tobacco Industry Interference Tactics in the Philippines towards Preemptive Advocacy and Policy Design
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HealthJustice Philippines
Publication date: 2018-06-13
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2018;4(Supplement):A134
The Philippines has been documented to have the “strongest tobacco lobby in Asia,” with tobacco industry interference (TII) in local and national policy-setting and implementation an important roadblock to tobacco control (TC). Characterising TII tactics allows for the design of advocacy strategies and government policies to prevent TII and strengthen TC and regulation, especially with the 4.7% increase in youth smoking prevalence from 2011 to 2015 and the continued heavy burden of tobacco-related deaths in the local healthcare system. To disaggregate and identify TII modalities, a 3-year (2015-2017) survey of published newspaper reports and advertisements was conducted, utilising the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids-supported Orendain Monitoring Reports. Major TII incidents identified included use of front groups to conduct corporate social responsibility (CSR) (especially donations to local governments); use of public relation (PR) tactics to circumvent tobacco advertisement ban in mass media; and meddling with political and legislative processes. Triangulation through TC CSOs and community consultations yielded reports of tobacco industry-initiated litigation and legal intimidation in various cities and municipalities. Violations of existing civil service rules were reported through complaints to the country’s Civil Service Commission (CSC) and case studies were developed as inputs to the ongoing revision and restructuring of the current prosecutorial/investigative instrument, the Joint Memorandum Circular 2010-10 of the CSC and the Department of Health. The survey highlighted the continued strong influence of the tobacco industry in Philippines across economic and political spheres and the necessity for concerted TC advocacies to denormalise CSR and PR engagements that serve their interests.

Funding: This study was supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.
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