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WHO tags illicit cigs; vapers for equal access

  • Written by Dennis F. Fetalino
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 202

Ped Xing

Society must be better than the individual.—George Clooney in The Ides of  March

They are many classes of illicit goods based on the nature of their manufacture and means of distribution.

But all have the same two main purposes—undermine local manufacturers and cheat government of rightful taxes and duties.

Therefore, both government and industry must join hands and work closely in fighting, if not eliminating illicit local manufacturers traders/importers, distributors, and retailers of such contraband.

According to the World Health Organization , illicit cigarettes generally fall under three classifications:
   
*  contraband, cigarettes smuggled from overseas without local duties paid;
   
*  counterfeit, cigarettes manufactured without rightful owners’ authorization and with deceptive intentions as well as avoiding duties; and
   
*  illicit whites, brands manufactured legitimately in one country but smuggled and sold to another while avoiding duties.
   
All of which undercut the government in due taxes and are subject to penalties as prescribed by existing laws.
   
Industry observers attribute the temptation of illicit cigarettes to retailers because of its higher profit returns while deceiving non-discerning buyers as the products also alarmingly carry fake cigarette tax stamps.
   
Repercussions of the upcoming annual sin tax law cigarette price increases keep authorities busy as  National Police operatives once again have arrested two illicit cigarette traders in Brgy. Cut-cot, Pulilan, Bulacan.
   
The suspects identified as Wilfredo R. Dimaano, 22, and Laarni Leslie L. Bautista, 21, were nabbed by police while in possession of more than 60 reams of counterfeit Mighty brand cigarette variants.
   
A Mighty Corp. representative certified the products to be counterfeit due to inconsistencies in the packaging.
   
Both suspects were charged with violating Section 155 (trademark infringement) in relation to Section 170 of Republic Act 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines under Case No. III-04-INV-16K-02327.
   
Internal Revenue personnel have repeatedly noted that any violator caught in possession of any product proven to be fake would  incur a penalty of two to five years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000.
   
Just last month, authorities arrested two fake cigarette vendors in Isabela for also selling fake cigarette to add to the string of arrests and seizures by the combined effort of the BIR, PNP, Bureau of Customs and National Bureau of Investigation over the past two years.

* * *
   
A new US study showing that teenagers who use e-cigarettes regularly are more likely to become frequent and heavy cigarette smokers drew a swift response from vapers who insist the transitioning device used by  tobacco quitters offers a fighting chance to those who use it.
   
About one third of teens in the US have tried vaping and some adolescents use e-cigarettes as a smoking-cessation aid. But in recent years, scientists have debated whether e-cigarettes help smokers quit, or act as a gateway to tobacco smoking.
   
The new study, published in the US journal JAMA, surveyed more than 3,000 15-year-old students in Los Angeles County twice, during the fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters respectively, asking how often they had vaped or smoked in the previous 30 days.
   
Overall, the prevalence of vaping and smoking was low.

But of those who were frequent vapers at the beginning of the study, defined by as having vaped three or more days in the past month, 11.6 percent smoked at least one day a month while 19.9 percent became frequent smokers six months later.
   
Here’s the prompt response from halfway across the globe:
   
NEW DELHI--Vapers today called on the World Health Organisation to allow the world’s one billion smokers to have equal access to safer alternatives to cigarettes.
   
Officials in closed-door meetings between the WHO and government health ministries in Delhi this week are considering banning electronic cigarettes, despite acknowledging they are significantly safer than cigarettes. They ejected vapers and consumer groups from their ‘public’, taxpayer-funded meetings on Monday.
   
Consumers fought back at a conference nearby. “On behalf of millions of us who now vape instead of smoke, and in support of the one billion smokers who deserve access to safer alternatives to cigarettes, we adopt today The Delhi Declaration, calling on the WHO and our countries’ representatives at COP-7 to allow us to have equal access to safer alternatives to cigarettes,” said Tom Pinlac, the President of The Vapers Philippines.
   
E-cigarettes have been endorsed by the UK government as 95% safer than cigarettes. They are widely available in England, the USA and the EU, leading millions of smokers to quit cigarettes for good, according to a study published this month in the scientific journal Addiction.They have recently become the most popular way to quit smoking in Switzerland.
   
Ironically, it is Swiss-based WHO bureaucrats who are leading the call to clamp down on vape products. A reportiv by an unnamed author at the WHO Secretariat in Geneva is the basis for this week’s negotiations. Despite acknowledging that e-cigarettes are “very likely ...less toxic than cigarette smoke” and that smokers switching to e-cigarettes “would represent a significant contemporary public health achievement,” the report recommends banning or severely restricting electronic cigarettes, citing concerns about youth experimentation and the lack of clinical studies on long-term safety.
   
“If we had waited for clinical studies and scientific certainty, we wouldn’t have seat belts, motorcycle helmets, cleaner fuel, or healthier foods,” said Pinlac. “There is no doubt e-cigarettes are much safer than cigarettes. Banning them shows disdain for our health and we are the ones who pay the price. Concerns about youth are very important, but that should be addressed through appropriate, balanced regulation not bans.”
   
The need for safer alternatives to cigarettes is particularly acute in Asia, home to two-thirds of the world’s smokers. “This is a development issue. While Western Europe, England and the United States allow e-cigarettes and have seen smoking rates plummet, the number of smokers in the developing world is growing,” said Nilesh Jain of the Indian Vapers Association. “Unfortunately, in India and across Asia, governments have banned e-cigarettes and the WHO supports them. That give us only two options: Quit or Die. We deserve equal access to the products that can improve our health.”
   
Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.
   
Pause and pray, people.