PNoy and graphic warning on smoking

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Monday, July 14, 2014


DEPARTMENT of Justice (DOJ) was asked by Malacañang to comment on the bill requiring graphic health warning on cigarettes, which is awaiting action in the president's office.

DOJ's recommendation: sign it into law because smoking is bad and the present warning on cigarette packs is weak.

Part of the routine during a bill's passage. Yet, DOJ should've limited itself to making a legal opinion.

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DOJ doesn't have expertise in health, whether cigarettes could really kill, and in communication, whether pictures instead of just words on cigarette packs could make hard-core smokers give up smoking.

The Constitution mandates that the state "shall protect and promote the right to health of the people."

DOJ can decide competently whether the bill ratified by both houses of Congress last June 11 is legal and constitutional. But health and propaganda are beyond DOJ's ken.

Besides, those were looked into by Congress in committee and plenary levels, unless key members went out for a smoke at the time.

Not unlike DAP

This irony must not have been lost on Malacañang and DOJ specialists who reviewed the proposed law: the man who'd sign, veto, or allow the bill to lapse into law is their boss who must still be hooked on cigarettes, given outbursts of coughing PNoy fell into lately during his public speeches.

Did they who reviewed the bill think the stronger warning against smoking wouldn't work on PNoy?

Still, that's not as mean as one critic's remark: "PNoy must regard smoking the way he looks at DAP spending: not wrong or bad at all."

(paseares@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 15, 2014.

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