, JUNE 7, 2010 (STAR) By Teddy Molina - The Philippine Aromatic Tobacco Development Association (PATDA), an association of tobacco dealers, rejected yesterday the latest set of recommendations from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC), saying it would have a “catastrophic impact” on the jobs and livelihoods of tobacco growers in the country.

“A ban on the use of ingredients in the manufacture of tobacco products proposed under the draft guidelines of Articles 9 & 10 of the FCTC effectively leads to a ban on traditional blended cigarettes that contain burley tobacco, which is grown in the Philippines,” PATDA president Winston Uy warned.

He said a ban on traditional blended cigarettes would also significantly impact consumers in the Philippines, as blended cigarettes represent over 95 percent of the domestic market. Furthermore, he stressed, the WHO recommendations would also lead to a ban on menthol cigarettes, which account for close to 50 percent of the domestic market.

”These recommendations do not make sense at all. The WHO has stated that cigarettes, with or without ingredients, are equally harmful.

How will banning some tobacco products with ingredients, while ignoring other types, benefit people’s health,” the PATDA chief asked. adding that, on the other hand, Philippine tobacco growers will suffer instant death if demand for burley tobacco dramatically decreases.

He cited National Tobacco Administration (NTA) records showing that around two million Filipinos depend on the tobacco industry for livelihood who he said will be directly affected if the draft guidelines were adhered to by the Philippine government.

“The earnings from one hectare of tobacco is equivalent to three hectares of planting rice or corn,” Uy said.

On moves suggesting the planting of alternative crops in lieu of tobacco,Uy said it is not easy to recommend something that is less profitable to the farmers ” lest it goes against the laws of economics and reason in general.”

PATDA is not alone in its concern, it was learned. The WHO recommendations caused outrage among tobacco grower associations around the world. Uy cited the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA), a US-based non-profit grower’s industry association, and Aliansi Masyarakat Tembakau Indonesia (AMTI), an Indonesia-based tobacco industry association.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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