May 16, 2021 @ 10:24

Law group to gov’t: Don’t accept donations from tobacco firms amid pandemic

“Wolf in sheep’s clothing.” This was the statement of law organization ImagineLaw on Sunday as they cautioned the government from receiving donations from tobacco companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The tobacco industry has a long history of using so-called corporate social responsibility or CSR to interfere with policymaking,” shared ImagineLaw Executive Director Atty. Sophia Monica San Luis.

“No less than the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that tobacco companies have attempted to gain favor and influence in governments through philanthropic contributions during this COVID-19 pandemic”, she added.

Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), also emphasized the tobacco industry’s role in easing tobacco control policies around the world.

“Tobacco industry interference comes in many forms – exploiting the policymaking processes, fabricating support through front groups, discrediting proven science, and even manipulating the public opinion by investing in social causes such as disaster relief and donations,” he explained.

According to the law group, tobacco companies are trying to steer attention from their harmful products by marketing themselves as part of the solution through outreach programs during the pandemic. Masked as CSR, tobacco companies have donated face masks, COVID-19 testing equipment, ventilators, and recently, vaccination programs.

“But tobacco companies’ products remain harmful and dangerous to the respiratory system, the very same system that the coronavirus attacks,” explained San Luis. “According to the WHO, smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to suffer from severe symptoms of COVID-19,” she added.

“This pandemic should be a wake-up call for stricter enforcement of existing regulations against tobacco industry interference,” added San Luis. “The tobacco industry will never be an ally in public health as long as its actions are diametrically opposed with the policies meant to protect Filipinos’ health,” she concluded.

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