True progress is tobacco-free campaign: engaging civil society to implement FCTC Article 5.3 in the Philippines
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HealthJustice Philippines, Philippines
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A70
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Background and challenges to implementation:
The Philippines is a State Party to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Article 5.3 of the Convention requires that "in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law."
This provision recognizes that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry's interests and public health policy interests.
The tobacco industry has been very active in the Philippines, given that one in four of Filipino adults consume their product. They have, for example, actively campaigned against raising taxes on tobacco products among legislators. This interference in tobacco regulation continues.
If lives were to be saved against the deadly tobacco epidemic and to discharge the country´s international obligation under Article 5.3, public health advocates and community leaders should anticipate tobacco industry strategies and tactics and include plans to counter them in their campaigns.

Intervention or response:
The campaign introduced stakeholders to the importance of FCTC Article 5.3 in fighting not only the tobacco epidemic but the threat of increasing NCDs in the country. The activities conducted include the following:
(1) civil society advocacy mapping,
(2) manifesto signing,
(3) press/media conferences, and
(4) capacity building workshops.

Results and lessons learnt:
The campaign encouraged more than 50 civil society organizations to sign the manifesto of support rejecting tobacco industry donations. More than 100 health and non-health civil society groups have also participated in the various activities conducted under the campaign.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
The campaign is not yet over. It´s has taught us to be creative, flexible, and patient. Educating civil society about the true intentions of the tobacco industry is a fight worth pursuing. Sustained financial and technical support is needed in order to reach more groups in the country.

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