Constitutionality of local tobacco regulation: An analysis of the case of Philippine Tobacco Institute vs city of Balanga
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Far Eastern University, Manila, Philippines
Publication date: 2021-12-10
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2021;7(Supplement):2
In 2016, the City Government of Balanga in Bataan passed an ordinance regulating the sale of tobacco products to all its citizens born on or after 1 January 2000, to protect the health of its citizens and maintain an environment that is conducive for the well-being, welfare, and learning of the youth of the city. This was one of the most comprehensive anti-smoking ordinances and one among the most progressive in the country. Prior to the ordinance the city has been strictly regulating tobacco and alcohol use since 2010 to protect the health of its citizen.
The said ordinance is patterned after the effective measures stipulated by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to which the Philippines ratified two years after the enactment of R.A. 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act. After the said ordinance was approved and passed by the City Council, the Philippine Tobacco Institute, representing multinational tobacco corporations, challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance. In 2018, the Court of Appeals ruled that the Ordinance contravenes R.A. No. 9211 and therefore should be struck down as unconstitutional for being an ultra vires act.
The decision of the Court of Appeals was premised upon the superiority of a municipal law (RA 9211) over a foreign law (FCTC) wherein it ruled that the foreign law finds no application in the city of Balanga because there is an existing national legislation which is RA 9211. However, since the FCTC is a foreign treaty ratified by the Senate, it can be argued that it also becomes part of the law of the land and has equal status to Acts of Congress. Since the FCTC is a later law, the principle of lex posterior derogate priori should have prevailed.
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